UN chief: Gaza on the brink of war

UN Secretary-General condemns Gaza violence, expresses shock over deaths in violent riots.

Ben Ariel,

Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Gaza is close to the brink of war and expressing shock over the number of Gazans killed and wounded by Israeli live fire during protests, in a report obtained by AFP on Monday.

Guterres told the Security Council that he "unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place" in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.

The report was sent to the council last week ahead of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Referring to recent violence in Gaza, Guterres said, according to AFP, "It is and should be a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is.”

"I am shocked by the number of deaths and injuries of Palestinians resulting from the use of live fire by Israel Defense Forces" since protests began on March 30, he added.

Israel has a responsibility to "exercise maximum restraint" and protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law, the UN chief wrote.

"The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable," he added.

Guterres renewed his call for an independent investigation of the shooting deaths in Gaza.

At the same time, the UN chief also criticized Hamas and other terrorist groups for attempting to put explosives near the fence and for shooting rockets at Israel on May 29 and 30.

He singled out "senior Israeli government officials" for asserting that all Palestinians were affiliated with Hamas which, he claimed, signals a "permissive Israeli policy towards the use of live fire against protesters."

He also blasted Israel's “settlement activities”, according to AFP, saying they "continue unabated."

Guterres said the construction of “settlements” must "cease immediately and completely."

The so-called “March of Return” violent riots, openly encouraged by Hamas, have been going on since March 30.

In these weekly violent riots, Gazans have hurled rocks, firebombs, and flaming tires at Israeli soldiers securing the border and have used makeshift “terror kites” and balloons to drop explosives on Israeli positions.

The most violent of these riots took place on May 14, the day on which the United States relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 60 Gazans were killed in those riots, but Hamas openly admitted that most of those killed were members of the group.

The IDF concluded last week that an initial investigation revealed that a Gaza medic who was killed during a violent riot at the Gaza border was not deliberately targeted by any Israeli soldiers, despite Palestinian Arab claims to the contrary.

The UN has failed to condemn Hamas for the violent riots. Last week, the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Israel over its actions in Gaza but voted down a U.S. amendment that would have placed the blame on Hamas for the violence.

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