UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday night called on the Palestinians and the Israelis to abide by the 72-hour Gaza ceasefire they had both approved.
In a statement issued here by his spokesperson, Ban welcomed the efforts leading to the new arrangement, which began in the Gaza Strip at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) Tuesday.
"Until the start of the ceasefire, the parties must exercise the utmost restraint," he said.
Meanwhile, he urged the parties "to commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues" and welcomed the proactive engagement of the Palestinian delegation.
"Such talks are the only way to sustainably stop the violence, which has cost far too many lives, and to change the untenable and tragic status quo in Gaza," said the UN chief, adding that the UN stands ready to lend its full support to these efforts.
Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas movement agreed to the Egyptian-brokered unconditional truce on Monday. During the 72 hours, an Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo to negotiate with the Palestinians.
Israel's offensive on Gaza, which started on July 8, has left more than 1,820 Palestinians killed, mostly civilians, and over 10,000 wounded. The Israeli side has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians.
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