World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Middle East: As fighting worsens, UN chief heads to region

Middle East: As fighting worsens, UN chief heads to region to help broker solution

18 July 2014

Amid an escalation of violence in Gaza, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will leave for the region on Saturday to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians, and to help bolster regional and international efforts for a solution.

Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the Secretary-General is “prepared to do his part” to help the parties end the violence and find a way forward.

While Israel has legitimate security concerns, the United Nations “is alarmed by Israel’s heavy response,” said Mr. Feltman.

While it was “indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel” that ended yesterday’s five-hour humanitarian pause, he said, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has so far conducted four ground incursions into Gaza and some 90 airstrikes, firing 91 missiles, as well as more than 500 shells.

We again appeal to the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law obligations towards civilians, humanitarian workers and UN installations. They must exercise maximum restraint at this time of great violence and instability.

Palestinians, meanwhile, have fired some 127 rockets and 29 mortar shells at Israel, during the same period.

Since 8 July, when hostilities intensified, two Israelis were killed, including one civilian, and at least 365 civilians were injured. Meanwhile, some 250 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been killed, and more than 1,900 civilians were injured in strikes from land, air and sea.

“The Secretary-General is extremely concerned that this escalation will further increase the already appalling death toll among Gazan civilians,” Mr. Feltman said.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson last night, the Secretary-General called for an immediate end to the “indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and Israeli retaliatory action.”

He asked the parties to do their utmost to protect civilians and UN premises and staff, and to ensure that humanitarian assistance continues to reach all those in need.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said today that over 47,000 displaced Gazans have taken refuge in its facilities. The overall number of displaced people inside Gaza is likely to be far higher as many people will have taken sanctuary with family and friends.

“We again appeal to the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law obligations towards civilians, humanitarian workers and UN installations. They must exercise maximum restraint at this time of great violence and instability,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness.

Mr. Feltman added that the Secretary-General has been “in touch around the clock with world leaders” to facilitate collective action to stop the violence, and was alarmed when fighting resumed after yesterday’s humanitarian pause. The temporary pause in fighting had raised hopes for a long-term ceasefire to be brokered by the Government of Egypt.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met yesterday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, and both reportedly agreed to the necessity of an immediate ceasefire and the urgency of holding a donors conference to start rebuilding the Gaza Strip, Mr. Feltman said.

Mr. Ban is currently reviewing a request by Mr. Abbas which would place Palestine under an international protection system administered by the UN.

In his briefing, Mr. Feltman reiterated the importance of addressing the root causes of the currently escalation, with support to durable political, security, institutional and socioeconomic progress that stabilizes Gaza. This includes an end to weapons smuggling, the full opening of the crossings and bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) commitments, and the paying of salaries to tens of thousands of employees working in Gaza after 2007 without payment.

He also stressed the importance of refocusing efforts towards a two-State solution, as the only viable route to end the decades-long conflict in the Middle East.

The impact of the situation in Gaza is also being felt in Lebanon, where the UN Interim Force (UNIFIL), in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, has intensified patrols in the area as a result of rockets being launched into Israel. The IDF retaliated in all five of the instances.

The destabilizing of the Golan Heights is also a grave danger, Mr. Feltman said, with exchanges of fire reported between the Syrian Armed Forces and armed members of the opposition.

Furthermore, the fighting poses a danger to the wider West Bank, where supporters of both sides have clashed.

“Our appeal stands on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to defuse tensions and act responsibly,” stressed Mr. Feltman.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Announces Mission To Combat Ebola

Ebola outbreak: a peacekeeper with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) wears a protective mask while on duty at UN offices in the capital city of Monrovia. UN Photo/Andrey Tsarkov More>>

Syria: Life-Saving Food Aid In Jeopardy For Millions Of Syrians

18 September 2014 – The United Nations World Food Programme ( WFP ) today warned that it is running out of funds to provide food for almost 6 million Syrians receiving its life-saving assistance. More>>

UN Warns: Hundreds Of Yemeni Families In Need Of Aid

Two displaced girls stand in front of the classroom where their family has been living in Aden, Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/P. Rubio Larrauri More>>

Ukraine: Victim "Tortured By Russian-Sponsored Militants"

GENEVA, September 17, 2014 – Irina Dovgan, a Ukrainian woman who made international headlines after she was publicly abused by Russian-sponsored militants in eastern Ukraine, testified today before the UN Human Rights Council. More>>

Gaza: Detention Conditions Of Palestinians Arrested By Israelis

PCHR Follows up Detention Conditions of Palestinians Arrested by Israeli Forces in Latest Offensive on the Gaza Strip More>>


UN: ‘Heinous’ Murder Of British Aid Worker By Islamic Militants

A wide view of the Security Council in session (file photo). UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras More>>

ALSO:

UN: Nuclear Programmes Of DPR Korea, Iran Remain Serious Concern

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (left) delivers his introductory statement at the Board of Governors Meeting in Vienna, Austria. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calma More>>

Libya: Closer To Brink Of Protracted Conflict And Strife

Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Bernardino Léon. UN Photo/Evan Schneider More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news