JANUARY 18 2009 08:31h
`I am relieved that the Israeli government has decided to cease hostilities as of midnight GMT`, Ban told reporters.
"I am relieved that the Israeli government has decided to cease hostilities as of midnight GMT," Ban told reporters. "This should be the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza," he said, adding that he wanted the withdrawal "as soon as possible".
He said that Hamas militants also needed to do their part to bring an end to the violence by halting their rocket attacks against southern Israel.
"Hamas militants must stop firing rockets now," he said.
Ban said that humanitarian access for the people of the Gaza Strip was the top priority and the United Nations was ready to act immediately.
"Any durable solution must include the reopening of the (Gaza border) crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms," he said.