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Ban calls on Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on Palestinians to stop launching rockets into Israel. "Indiscriminate killing of civilians is unacceptable under any circumstances," he said at a press conference in Gaza. Palestinian terrorists fired eight rockets into southern Israel on the eve of Ban’s visit.
"Likewise, Israelis should fully guarantee the freedom, human rights and decent life and dignity of the Palestinian people," he added. He went on to say that he had sympathy for the complaints of people in Gaza: "I fully share their concern and frustration," he said. "This is why I am here for the third time. This is a very dire economic, social, humanitarian problem."
"I thank the people of Gaza for the warm welcome," he told the news conference, provoking laughter among local journalists. "I met many people who were waiting for me at the entrance." Upon arrival in Gaza, Ban’s convoy was met by dozens of Palestinians throwing shoes, sticks and stones at it, protesting against what they saw as a slight against Palestinians jailed in Israel.
No one was injured during the hostile welcome and the vehicles, which entered the Hamas-ruled territory from southern Israel through the Erez crossing, pushed through the crowd and sped away.
During the press conference, Ban again called on Israel to lift all restrictions on the Gaza Strip and urged Israel and the Palestinians to keep the peace process alive.
"The leaders of the two parties are committed to continue these negotiations. There are still concerns and lack of mutual trust, but I am hopeful that this dialogue will continue in a sustainable way," he said.
Israel should "provide some goodwill gestures as a way of confidence-building measures", Ban said, echoing pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from the United States and European Union.
Ban is visiting the region to try to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He also traveled to the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, where he visited a UN sponsored housing project.
Many of those protesting as the UN convoy passed by were family members of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. They hit the vehicles with signs bearing slogans accusing Ban of bias towards Israel and of refusing to meet the relatives of Palestinian prisoners.
Approximately 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails and securing their release is a highly emotive issue in Palestinian society.
Earlier this week, Ban held talks with high level Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Upon completion of his visit to the Gaza Strip Thursday, Ban is scheduled to visit the Sapir Academic College near Sderot, which has been the target of numerous Kassam rockets from Gaza. He will then hold meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, and deliver the keynote address at the 12th annual Herzliya Conference.

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