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UN envoy calls for restraint ahead of new Gaza protests

UN envoy calls for restraint ahead of renewed protests at Gaza fence

Ahead of tomorrow’s planned protests at the Gaza-Israel border, the United Nations envoy on the Middle East peace process has called on Israeli forces to exercise maximum restraint and on the Palestinians to avoid friction at the Gaza fence, which was the scene of deadly violence amid similar demonstrations last Friday.

In a statement on Thursday, UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov said he is “following with concern” the continuing preparations and rhetoric for Friday’s so-called ‘Great Return March’ in Gaza.

“Demonstrations and protests must be allowed to proceed in a peaceful manner. Civilians, particularly children, must not be intentionally put in danger or targeted in any way,” he underscored.

Mr. Mladenov’s warning follows deadly violence last Friday, 30 March, during which thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave.

According to reports from the Palestinian Health Ministry15 Palestinians had been killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Some of the casualties were reportedly the result of live ammunition used by Israeli security forces during the March. Other casualties followed armed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including the shelling of a Hamas observation point.

There were also reports from Israeli security forces of militants attempting to get through the fence an in attempt to plant explosives. Palestinians also reportedly sent a nine-year-old girl through the fence, but Israeli forces were able to send her safely back.

In the aftermath of the clashes UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for an independent and transparent investigation into the incident. The Security Council had also convened an emergency meeting on the clashes.

‘Zero stocks’ for nearly half of essential medicines

Quoting partners on the ground, a UN spokesperson said today that supplies of essential drugs and medical disposables are running low at health facilities in the enclave while an ongoing electricity crisis that has hampered the functioning of hospitals.

“There are currently zero stock levels for nearly half of the list of essential drugs and for a quarter of the list of essential [medical] disposables in Gaza,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, said at a regular news briefing in New York.

“An estimated $1 million is urgently required to support the health system in Gaza for drugs, disposables, equipment, gases and lab materials in the coming 6 to 8 weeks,” he added, noting that humanitarian partners are working to prioritize urgently required medical items and coordinating the disbursement of supplies in preparation for the expected medical increased needs.

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