Disturbed by deaths of Palestinian children, Annan stresses need to protect civilians

Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing the General Assembly early October. (UN/Evan Schneider)

Distressed by a series of children’s deaths during the ongoing Israeli operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the Government of Israel to take steps to avoid civilian casualties.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan said the Secretary-General was disturbed to learn of the deaths of two Palestinian children that occurred over the last few days, particularly since they followed similar incidents earlier in October.

On Thursday nine-year-old Rania Iyad Aram was killed by gunfire on her way to school in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday morning, 12-year-old Ibrahim Mohammed Kmileh was killed in a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin, while two other boys were wounded.

“The Secretary-General expects that the Government of Israel will launch a rigorous investigation into these incidents and that the results will be made public,” spokesman Fred Eckhard said at the daily briefing in New York.

Mr. Annan also renewed his calls on the Government of Israel to take effective measures to avoid any harm to Palestinian civilians, and to have special care for the protection of the children, he added.

“He calls on both parties to exercise maximum restraint and responsibility during this critical period,” the spokesman said.