Fighting in Gaza Intensifies as UN Chief Holds Talks in Israel

Ban Ki-Moon United NationsBy Sonja Pace

Jerusalem, Israel (RushPRnews)15 January 2009 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has strongly condemned the Israeli shelling of the U.N. headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. chief holds talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, today, aimed at ending the nearly three weeks of violence, in which more than one thousand Palestinians are estimated to have been killed.

Israeli forces have encircled Gaza City for days now, making forays into central areas. But, residents now report Israeli forces pushing ever deeper into the city.

“It was one of the worst nights that we’ve been in in Gaza city,” said Palestinian journalist Mohammed Dawwas, who was reporting for VOA. “It was bombardment all night long and in the morning it increased. I can see everything from my house – smoke, bombardment – it’s very close to where we live, maybe a half a kilometer away.”
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Fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants is reported in the Tel Hawwas neighborhood of southern Gaza city and many residents are reported to have fled their homes.

Dawwas says he was able to talk to a friend there.

“He was telling me how bad it is,” Dawwas said. “He was seeing people getting shot, he was seeing places on fire, a gas station was blown up. He said … there is resistance there and the Israelis are bombarding everything in sight.”

United Nations officials say Israeli shells have hit the U.N. compound in Gaza City, where hundreds of people have sought refuge from the fighting.

As fighting intensifies in Gaza, so do diplomatic efforts to stop it. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon holds talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Thursday, and a senior Israeli envoy heads to Cairo for discussions aimed at bringing an end to hostilities.

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