Ban calls for halt to Gaza violence
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called for an immediate halt to violence in Gaza following Israeli air strikes that killed more than 200 Palestinians in retaliation for ongoing rocket attacks against the Jewish state.?

Ban "is deeply alarmed by today's heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel," a spokesman for the UN secretary general said in a statement.?

The UN leader "appeals for an immediate halt to all violence" and reiterates "previous calls for humanitarian supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed civilian population."?

"While recognising Israel's security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza," read the statement, Ban "firmly reiterates Israel's obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians."?

The UN leader also "condemns the ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and is deeply distressed that repeated calls on Hamas for these attacks to end have gone unheeded."?

Israel hammered Hamas targets in Gaza today, killing at least 205 people in retaliation for ongoing rocket fire in one of the bloodiest days of the decades-long Middle East conflict.?