The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is following with “deep concern” the latest developments across the Gaza-Israeli border and urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint. Over the weekend, hundreds of rockets were launched from the Occupied Palestinian Territory into southern Israel, and Israel retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes and tank fire.
According to news reports, several women, children and men on both sides have been killed and injured as a result of the violence.
Deploring the “risk of yet another dangerous escalation and further loss of life on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan,” on Sunday, the UN chief condemned “in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centres”.
He urged all parties to “exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months,” referring to a fragile Egypt-brokered and UN-backed ceasefire, which was recently agreed.
The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued a similar call for calm on Saturday and continues to work closely with Egypt and all concerned parties to restore calm.
Against a backdrop of longstanding shortages of basic goods and services in Gaza linked to a more than decade-long air, sea and land blockade by Israel, Palestinian protests began over a year ago in the Strip. In an ongoing cycle of violence, close to 200 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 40 children, and over 1,300 have been injured.