UN chief calls for end to Israel-Palestinians fighting as UNSC meets

UNICEF says children bearing brunt of this escalation

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Sunday made a passionate appeal for an immediate end to the escalating clashes between Israeli troops and the Palestinians fighters, warning a UN Security Council meeting that the fighting could plunge the region into an “uncontainable” crisis.
“It (the crisis) has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole, potentially creating a new locus of dangerous instability,” Guterres said, as he opened a virtual meeting of the 15-member Council to address the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately,” Guterres said. More that 125 Palestinians have been killed by the relentless Israeli artillery and airstrikes, while Israel says 7 of its citizens lost lives, Guterres said.
The UN chief called the killings “utterly appalling.”
Guterres condemned the fresh violence on Sunday which killed 40 Palestinians, the worst death toll since the unrest broke out.
“This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately,” Guterres said.
He also reiterated criticism of an Israeli strike on Saturday that destroyed the Gaza offices of two major news outlets, Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press.
“Journalists must be allowed to work free of fear and harassment. The destruction of media offices in Gaza is extremely concerning,” he said.
“Rockets and mortars on one side and aerial and artillery bombardments on the other must stop. I appeal to all parties to heed this call,” Guterres said.
He also voiced alarm at the rise of extremist Jewish movements whose push to expel Palestinians out of Jerusalem triggered the crisis.
“In Israel, violence by vigilante-style groups and mobs has added a further horrendous dimension to an already deteriorating crisis,” Guterres said.
“Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to curb inflammatory rhetoric and calm the rising tensions.”
Guterres reiterated that the United Nations remains deeply committed to working with Israelis and Palestinians and with its international and regional partners, including the Middle East Quartet, to realize a lasting and just peace.
“We are in contact with many relevant interlocuters and I again call on the parties to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed,” he said.
“The only way forward is to return to negotiations with the goal of a two-States solution, with two States living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, based on relevant UN resolutions, international law and prior agreements.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Sunday accused Israel of “war crimes” in its nearly week-long offensive as called for international pressure to end the Israeli aggression.
“Some may not want to use these words — war crimes and crimes against humanity — but they know they are true,” Maliki told the virtual session on the crisis.
More than 40 children have been killed in the current crisis in the Middle East, a senior official with the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said.
The latest deaths occurred overnight when eight Palestinian children were reported killed north of Gaza, according to a statement by Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
International media reported that the children were among 10 members of a Palestinian family who died in an Israeli airstrike on their home in the Al-Shati refugee camp.
“The scale of violence is massive. Children are bearing the brunt of this escalation,” Chaiban said. “All sides need to step back and end the violence. All sides have an obligation to protect civilians – especially children – and facilitate humanitarian access. The underlying triggers for this violence will not be resolved through further violence.”
Chaiban reported that since 10 May, at least 40 children in Gaza have been killed, ranging in age from six months to 17 years, with over half younger than 10. Two children in Israel, including a six-year-old, have been killed since the escalation began. He added that more than 1,000 people in Gaza were reported injured, some severely, including “a high number” of children.
“In the past week, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, one 16-year-old child was killed and at least 54 Palestinian children were reported injured, another 26 children have been arrested. Most have since been released,” he said.
Meanwhile, 35 schools in Gaza have been damaged and at least 29 schools are serving as temporary shelters for families who have fled their home due to heavy violence.
UNICEF said as many as 10,000 people are displaced, most of them children. Three schools in Israel have been damaged, according to reports received by the UN agency.
In a post on Twitter on Saturday, Wennesland said that he was appalled by “the horrific incident” in Al-Shati camp, and mourned all the young lives lost so far in the violence. He called for an end to the hostilities, saying “children must not be the target of violence or put in harm’s way.”


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