U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gestures as he delivers a speech during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the UN Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Aug. 28, 2013 (Photo: AP)
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has asked Hamas to cooperate with an Egyptian initiative demanding a truce between Israel and Gaza, state news agency MENA reported.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, deputy spokesman of the secretary-general, Farhan Haq, expressed his sorrow for Hamas' non-response to the ceasefire that Egypt proposed on Monday evening.
The initiative involved an immediate end to hostilities from both sides, to be followed with negotiations in Cairo with Palestinian and Israeli factions as part of efforts to end the violence that has killed over 200 Palestinians and one Israeli since the conflict began last week.
Israeli officials and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Tuesday that they had accepted the proposal. However, Hamas' militant wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, called the truce a "submission" and declared it would keep fighting until its demands were met.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ki-moon spoke by phone last Wednesday and agreed that all military measures should be halted in order to stop the escalation in Gaza, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.
They also agreed to work to prevent the situation from escalating and causing more loss of life, the statement said.
During Tuesday's press conference, Ban Ki-Moon expressed his deep concern over the continuing offensive between Gaza rulers Hamas and Israel.
Violence in the coastal strip began building up three weeks ago after three Jewish settlers were abducted in the occupied West Bank. They were killed and their bodies were found last week. A Palestinian teenager was later kidnapped and burned alive in Jerusalem.
According to the Palestinian wire service Wafa, Palestinian President Abbas is to visit Egypt on Wednesday for talks with El-Sisi over the ceasefire initiative.