UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon on Wednesday called on Israel and Hamas to exercise restraint to defuse the escalation in the Gaza Strip.

“The Secretary-General rejects all actions targeting civilians and calls on all concerned to exert maximum restraint to prevent another cycle of bloodshed,” said his spokesperson.

“It is also essential to preserve the ceasefire understanding of November 2012 and restore calm,” he added, referring to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement that brought an end to last year’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

“The Secretary-General,” the spokesperson added, “continues to emphasize the need for the Israeli and Palestinian sides to remain steadfast in their commitment to achieving the two-state solution in order to end the violence permanently.”

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