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7 Jan, 2009 04:17

UN pushes for Gaza ceasefire

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and has urged world leaders to work together to bring an end to the violence.

So far Israel has rejected a US-backed ceasefire proposal, but said it would take the idea “very seriously”.

Speaking at the UN Security Council in New York for the first time, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was guilty of a 'massacre' in Gaza.

“The Arab world will accept no less than the urgent invitation by the Security Council to stop the fire and deter the aggressor,” he said.

The US, Israel’s staunchest ally, has made it clear it won’t back a ceasefire deal that doesn’t include measures preventing Hamas from firing missiles into Israel.

“The situation before the current events in Gaza was clearly not sustainable,” said the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Hundreds and thousands of Israelis lived under a daily threat of rocket attack and frankly, no country, none of our countries, would have been able to tolerate such a circumstance.”

Earlier, Washington stressed that mechanisms to prevent Hamas smuggling weapons into Gaza should also be addressed.

A previous draft resolution, submitted by Libya, failed last week after it was vetoed by the US, which said the draft didn't address Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Meanwhile, concern is mounting for the many civilians in Gaza whose homes are being targeted by the airstrikes and who face an worsening humanitarian situation.