UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon is scheduled to visit Middle East region soon in a bid to bring an end to the escalated lethal conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians over Gaza, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky announced here Friday.
The announcement of Ban's visit came at a time when both Israel and the Palestinian militants brushed aside international calls for restraint on Thursday and escalated their conflict over the Gaza.
"The secretary-general is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives," said Nesirky at the daily briefing.
"The secretary-general has continued to speak with international and regional leaders and officials by telephone and in person as part of his efforts to call for restraint and push for an end to violence. As part of those efforts, he plans to visit the region shortly," said the spokesman, declining to provide further details of Ban's visit.
According to Nesirky, the UN chief urgently appealed to all parties concerned to do everything under their command to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm, while calling for an immediate cessation of rocket attacks and maximum restraint from Israel.
"The secretary-general's paramount concern is for the safety and well being of all civilians," Nesirky said.
The spokesman stressed that Ban believes "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."
On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile against a patrol jeep of the Israeli Defense Forces, injuring four soldiers.
In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force carried out several air strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza and killed on Wednesday Ahmed al-Jaabari, head of Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, and his escort. A large number of Israeli troops gathered along the border, possibly for a ground invasion.
It was answered by more than 150 rockets and mortar shells launched by Hamas into southern Israel.
On Monday, Ban voiced his great concerns at "the new waves of violence in Gaza and southern Israel," calling for "an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel."
Two days later, he spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about the escalating violence in Gaza and southern Israel, while the UN Security Council met in a closed, late-night session on the situation.