CAIRO: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Friday for an immediate "humanitarian pause" in the fighting in Gaza and Israel lasting through the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Ban's call came after several meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian officials aimed at ending the 18-day conflict that has killed at least 828 Palestinians, most of them civilians.
"On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel. This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period," Ban said in a statement released by his office.
Ban said a halt in the fighting could lead to a "longer-term cease-fire plan."
"But surely all parties can accept to lay down their arms for this holy period of celebration and reflection. Surely all can agree to stop killing each other for at least this brief span of time," he said.
"The Eid humanitarian pause can and should take effect immediately - without conditions, without excuses, without delay."