Gaza is on "a knife edge" and the Middle East faces one of its most serious challenges in years, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday, according to AFP.
Ban said he had spent the day talking with world leaders including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"I am alarmed by the new wave of violence that has engulfed Gaza, southern Israel and the West Bank -- including East Jerusalem. This is one of the most critical tests the region has faced in recent years," Ban was quoted by the news agency as having said.
"Gaza is on a knife edge. The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get beyond anyone's control. The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war," he warned.
Ban condemned the rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israel, saying, "Such attacks are unacceptable and must stop."
At the same time, he said he had also urged Netanyahu to “exercise maximum restraint” and to “respect international obligations to protect civilians.”
Ban’s comments came as Arab envoys to the United Nations requested an urgent Security Council session on the situation in Gaza.
Earlier this week, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said that it was time for the UN Security Council to condemn Hamas’s indiscriminate attacks against millions of Israeli civilians.
“At this critical moment,” wrote Prosor, “the Security Council has an obligation to unequivocally condemn Hamas before it is too late. The very real danger of an even greater escalation hangs over the region. The Council must publicly denounce terrorism and call on President Abbas to dissolve the unity government before the situation further deteriorates.”