UN chief urges end to Gaza fighting

Associated Press
A plume of smoke is seen over central Gaza Strip, after an airstrike by Israeli forces, as seen from the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 96, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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CAIRO (AP) — The U.N. chief is urging Israeli forces and Gaza militants to hold their fire, warning that a further escalation of the seven-day-old conflict would endanger the entire region.

Ban Ki-Moon says: "This must stop, immediate steps are needed to avoid further escalation, including a ground operation."

Ban's visit to Cairo comes as Egypt's new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi is trying to broker a cease-fire between the Israeli government and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Ban met with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby on Tuesday and will meet with Morsi before traveling to Israel later in the day. Ban says he will encourage Israeli leaders to end the violence and respect obligations under international law.

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