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25 July 2014
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014
IN CAIRO, SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TALKS ON POSSIBLE MIDDLE EAST CEASEFIRE
The Secretary-General is in Cairo and has been in intense discussions with a number of key interlocutors, including the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, as they work to build support for a possible ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.
The Secretary-General also spoke to the staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (
) in Gaza by video link today. He expressed his deep appreciation and thanks for the brave work that they were doing. The staff briefed the Secretary-General on their efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He also heard about the daily challenges they face.
Yesterday evening, he
spoke to the press
after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry, and he told the Israelis and Palestinians, “You must stop fighting, and enter into dialogue. Whatever grievances you may have, this is wrong.”
Asked further about the Secretary-General’s diplomatic efforts, the Spokesman said that he had also spoken by phone with the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Qatar.
He added that the Secretary-General was continuing to see what kind of pressure could be brought on all side to obtain a ceasefire. The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that an immediate halt to the fighting is essential, after which the parties need to look at root causes so that the fighting that Gaza has experienced in recent years does not recur.
GAZA: U.N. TEAM'S ATTEMPT TO SURVEY ATTACKED SCHOOL IN BEIT HANOUN CUT SHORT BY GUNFIRE
This afternoon in Gaza, a team from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (
), which included an international weapons expert, went to the school at Beit Hanoun which came under attack yesterday, causing multiple deaths and injuries. The aim of the visit to the site was to survey the scene in the aftermath of the incident.
The mission had to be cut short and the team was forced to leave the area after gunfire around the school. The Relief and Works Agency regrets not being able complete even this initial assessment. It will attempt to visit the site when the situation allows. UNRWA reiterates its call for an immediate and comprehensive investigation.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said that the bombing of the UNRWA school in Gaza and the death of innocent children will be seen as an international outrage. He said that schools should never be theatres of war but should be safe havens for boys and girls.
Asked about efforts to evacuate people from the Beit Hanoun school before the Thursday attack, the Spokesman said that UNRWA had sought clearance to evacuate people from the school so that they could leave safely, because of concerns about fighting in the area. They had not received that clearance before the attack.
Asked whether Israel was responsible, Haq reiterated that it is not known yet who was responsible for the attack, which is why it was important to conduct an investigation.
Asked about UNRWA casualties, he said that no UNRWA staff were believed to be killed in the Beit Hanoun attack but three UNRWA schoolteachers had been killed in separate incidents in recent days.
Asked about the treatment of UN premises, the Spokesman said that the message to all sides is that UN premises are off limits, and should neither be attacked nor used for military activity or the storage of weapons. He said the inviolability of UN premises is essential so that facilities like the UNRWA schools can provide protection to innocent civilians.