UNITED NATIONS U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on Israel and Hamas to "stop this dangerous escalation" in the Gaza Strip to avoid further bloodshed in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Ban's spokesman said.
"The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint."
Nesirky added that Ban "plans to visit the region shortly." U.N. diplomats have said that Ban will visit Israel and Egypt next week.
"A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure," Nesirky said. "Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently."
Israel began bombing Gaza on Wednesday with an attack that killed the Hamas military chief. It says its campaign is in response to Hamas missiles fired on its territory. Hamas stepped up rocket attacks in response.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jackie Frank and Paul Simao)