UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday welcomed the broadly observed 12-hour humanitarian pause in Gaza Strip and called for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire, stressing the urgent need to end the blockade on the Strip. "As the pause nears end, there are countless images of Gazans trying to return to their daily lives while taking care of their wounded and attending to their dead," Ban's press office said in a statement.
"These images make it clear that we owe to the people of both Israel and Gaza our renewed effort to consolidate this pause in fighting into a more sustainable ceasefire," the statement said.
The Secretary General "therefore urgently appeals once again to all parties to declare a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as a prelude to renewing a political process as the only way of achieving a durable peace," according to the statement.
He strongly "urged the parties to, at the very minimum, extend the pause expiring later today." He reiterated that any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence.
"The blockade of and the closure on Gaza must end; there must be security based on mutual recognition, and there must be a viable two-state solution by which Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security," the statement concluded. As the Israeli aggression on Gaza entered its third week, close to 900 civilians were killed and some 6.000 more were injured.