UN envoy concerned about facing another dangerous escalation in Gaza

Wednesday, 2019-03-27 10:23:06
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Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building after Israeli air strike hit dozens of sites on the Gaza Strip, in Gaza City, March 26, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
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UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on Tuesday (March 26) he is concerned that "we may once again be facing another dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza with potentially catastrophic consequences."

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East situation, Mladenov said a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip on March 25, directly hitting a house in central Israel. Seven family members were injured, including three children.

Over the following 24 hours, at least 103 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel, some of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, while others caused material damage to a house in Sderot or hit uninhabited areas, he said.

The Israeli Air Force conducted 42 strikes on various locations in Gaza, while some 16 shells were fired by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli navy towards Gaza. According to local sources, seven

Palestinians were injured as a result of the strikes. Several buildings were destroyed, including Hamas offices and security buildings, Mladenov added.

"The last two days have shown us how precipitously close we are to the brink of war," said Mladenov.

He asked the members of the Security Council to call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains very tense.

According to Mladenov, the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is continuing unabated.

The advancement, approval or tender of more than 3,000 units in the occupied West Bank, is the largest batch since May 2018. This includes the latest announcement of over 800 units in Ariel, he said.

Mladenov reiterated that the establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, has no legal effect and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, as stated in resolution 2334, and must cease immediately and completely.

The demolition and seizure of Palestinian structures also continues, said Mladenov.

Mladenov said he is "deeply concerned" by the lack of progress towards the realization of a two-state solution in line with relevant United Nations resolutions, long-standing international parameters and prior agreements.

Given the interconnected nature of conflicts throughout the region and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict's potential to fuel extremist narratives, creating the conditions for the parties to return to meaningful bilateral negotiations remains critical, he said.

"What is needed however first and foremost, is the necessary leadership and political will to take concrete steps in support of ending the occupation and realizing a lasting peace. Until that can be found, another generation of Israelis and Palestinians is destined to spend their lives searching in vain for an elusive peace," he said.

Xinhua