Following reports that dozens of Palestinians have been killed, demonstrating along the border of the Gaza Strip on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to show restraint.
“The Secretary-General is profoundly alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests,” said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq in a statement.
“Israel security forces must exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire. Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations have a responsibility to prevent all violent actions and provocations,” the statement added.
According to media reports, more than 50 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in Gaza – the Palestinian enclave occupied by Israel, as the Israeli army fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters assembled along the fence with Israel.
It was the highest Palestinian death toll in a single day since Hamas-led demonstrations began along the border fence on March 30; and the highest number of casualties inflicted since the 2014 conflict with Israel inside Gaza.
During the six-weeks of demonstrations which organizers have called “the Great March of Return,” thousands of Palestinians have converged at the border to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave. Israel has accused Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militants of using the protests – involving women, children, and elderly civilians – as a pretext to infiltrate Israel and carry out terrorist attacks.
In the Monday’s march, many Palestinians were protesting the official move of the United States embassy, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People does not recognize Israel’s claim that the entire city of Jerusalem is its capital.
The Committee considers that the status of Jerusalem must be settled through negotiations that take account of the political and religious concerns of all sides.
“With tensions high and more demonstrations expected in the coming days, it is imperative that everyone show the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life, including ensuring that all civilians and particularly children are not put in harm’s way,” said the Deputy UN Spokesperson.
“The ongoing violence underscores the urgent need for a political solution. The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no viable alternative to the two-state solution, with Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace, each with its capital in Jerusalem,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UN body monitoring implementation of the convention on eliminating racial discrimination has urged Israel, which is a State party, to immediately end the disproportionate use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip, refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and ensure prompt and unimpeded access to medical treatment for those injured.
The body – known as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – also urged Israel to initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the use of force against Palestinian demonstrators and ensure that all Palestinians under its effective control, enjoy full rights under the Convention, without discrimination.