MOSCOW, November 19 - RAPSI. Expressing deep sadness over an attack that killed ten members of one family Sunday, including women and children, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged an end to the violence raging between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip. He further lamented the loss of several Israeli civilian casualties.

In an official statement released Sunday, Ban pleaded, “This must stop. I strongly urge the parties to cooperate with all efforts led by Egypt to reach an immediate cease fire. Any further escalation will inevitably increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations and must be avoided.”

The secretary reiterated his passionate disregard for the situation by vowing to take matters into his own hands: “I am heading to the region to appeal personally for ending the violence and contribute to ongoing efforts to that end.”

In a separate statement released last Friday, Ban implored the parties to consider their obligations under international humanitarian law, stating, “All sides must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in this regard. A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure. Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently.” In the same statement, he reiterated the unacceptability of rocket attacks and urged Israel to “exercise maximum restraint.”

In Russia’s view, the attacks on Southern Israel were unacceptable, but Israeli forces have responded disproportionately. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Moscow supports the efforts of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi to bring peace to Gaza. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will discuss the crisis with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The Obama administration has expressed its support for Israel, explaining that the current bout of violence was precipitated by rocket fire coming from Gaza and that Israel is justified in defending itself. A White House spokesperson explained during a briefing, “We support their right to self defense against these rockets. At the same time, we’ll continue to encourage that all steps can be taken to reduce any possible civilian loss of life.”

The Israeli army announced last Wednesday that it had launched a large-scale operation to eliminate key militant commanders and “terrorist infrastructure” in the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. Hamas military commander Ahmed Al-Jabari became the first target hit in a series of well-planned air strikes on Gaza. He was killed early Wednesday when his car was hit by an Israeli missile. The deadly attack referenced by Ban in his statement was an airstrike on the house of Mohamed Dalou, a Hamas official.