Nikolay Mladenov
Nikolay MladenovReuters

The United Nations’ Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, on Wednesday criticized both Israel and Hamas over the recent incidents along the Gaza border.

Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council, Mladenov said that the day on which the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated was the day on which the largest number of casualties in clashes along the Gaza border was recorded.

He called that day “a tragic day in the long history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, another reminder of the need to bring peace to this troubled land.”

Mladenov asserted that Israel was causing Gazans to become desperate, saying, “Let me reiterate what I said last week in this Chamber, by calling on all to join me in condemning in the strongest possible terms the actions that have led to the loss of so many lives in Gaza. Israel has the responsibility to calibrate its use of force, to not use lethal force except as a last resort under imminent threat of death or serious injury. It must protect its citizens, but it must do so proportionally and investigate every incident that has led to a loss of human life.”

But he also condemned Hamas, which controls Gaza, saying the group “must not use the protests as cover to attempt to place bombs at the fence and create provocations; its operatives must not hide among the demonstrators and risk the lives of civilians.”

“Palestinians have a right to protest peacefully. As demonstrations are likely to continue into the month of June, I again reiterate our call for all sides to exercise maximum restraint,” said the envoy.

Arabs have hurled rocks, firebombs, and flaming tires at Israeli soldiers securing the border and have used makeshift “terror kites” to drop explosives on Israeli positions during the violent riots, dubbed “the March of the Return”, which began on March 30, long before the relocation of the American embassy.

Mladenov caused an uproar last month when he accused Israel of killing children, following the deaths of Palestinian Arab teens in the violent riots.