Two UN staff members killed in Israeli raid on Gaza

Reacting to Israel’s deadly raid in Gaza today which left ten people dead, including two United Nations aid workers, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged that country’s Government to restrain its military and act in accord with international humanitarian law.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan said the Secretary-General is “gravely disturbed by the Israeli military attack in the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip,” noting that it occurred during one of the most important Muslim holidays, Eid al Fitr.

Most of the ten Palestinians killed in the raid were civilians, including two staff members of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) - Osama Hassan Tahrawi and Ahlam Riziq Kandil. Both victims were in their early 30s and were working for the Agency’s education projects.

“The Secretary-General deplores the loss of innocent civilian life,” spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York, recalling Mr. Annan’s repeated calls on Israel to refrain from the excessive and disproportionate use of deadly force in civilian areas.

The spokesman added that the Secretary-General “wishes to remind the Government of Israel of its obligations as an occupying power to protect the civilian population, and urges them ensure that the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] behave with greater restraint and discipline and in conformity with international humanitarian law.”

Looking to the broader picture, the Secretary-General once again stressed that “only a political solution offers the two parties a viable way out of the current conflict and the possibility of real security for both sides,” Mr. Eckhard said.

The Secretary-General also extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the attack.

This press release was originally titled “Deploring civilian death toll of Israel’s raid, Annan urges Government to restrain military”.