UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri at the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 21, 2014 (Photo: AP)
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for an immediate "humanitarian pause" in the fighting in Gaza and Israel lasting through the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Ban's call came after several meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian officials aimed at ending the 18-day conflict that has killed more than 845 people, most of them Palestinian civilians.
"On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel. This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period," Ban said in a statement released by his office.
Ban said a halt in the fighting could lead to a "longer-term ceasefire plan".
"But surely all parties can accept to lay down their arms for this holy period of celebration and reflection. Surely all can agree to stop killing each other for at least this brief span of time," he said.
"The Eid humanitarian pause can and should take effect immediately -- without conditions, without excuses, without delay."