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Israel Gaza War: UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon concerned about Dangerous escalation / Gaza Conflict News

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has called for an immediate ceasefire to end the Hamas-Israel conflict.

Speaking in Cairo after talks with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby, he said a ground invasion of Gaza would be a “dangerous escalation” that must be avoided.

“Immediate steps are needed by all to avoid a further escalation, including a ground operation which will only result in further tragedy,” Mr Ban, who is to meet Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, said.

“My message is clear – all sides must halt fire immediately – further escalating the situation will put the entire region at risk.”

Mr Ban, who will go to Israel later today, added: “I will urge the Israeli leadership to end the violence.”

“We all must recognise that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must be respected in accordance with international law, but a ground operation would be a dangerous escalation.”

The US has confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will fly from Asia to meet key officials in Jerusalem, Ramallah and then Cairo.

It also emerged that President Barack Obama has not asked Israel to hold off on a ground invasion, as a White House source confirmed that Mr Obama believes Israel has a right to make its own security decisions.

Egyptian officials have already held talks with an Israeli envoy and the Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, but both sides continued to trade blows as Hamas insisted on lifting of a six-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Militants said they fired 16 missiles at the southern Israeli city of Beersheba after Israel’s military targeted roughly 100 sites in Gaza overnight, including ammunition stores and the Gaza headquarters of the Hamas-backed National Islamic Bank.

Many families have fled their homes to seek haven in the south which has seen fewer strikes, while thousands of Israeli families have been forced into shelters during the rocket attacks.

Israeli strikes killed 32 Palestinians on Monday, taking the Gaza death toll to at least 111.

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