UN chief calls for immediate end to 'utterly appalling' violence in Palestine


Published: 2021-05-18 19:24

Last Updated: 2024-06-15 01:22

UN chief calls for immediate end to 'utterly appalling' violence in Palestine
UN chief calls for immediate end to 'utterly appalling' violence in Palestine

During a Security Council meeting Sunday, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the current 'senseless' cycle of violence in the Middle East must end now. He described the hostilities as 'utterly appalling' and warned that hopes of coexistence and peace between Palestinians and the Israeli Occupation are being pushed even further into the horizon.

“Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately,” he said “Rockets and mortars on one side and aerial and artillery bombardments on the other must stop. I appeal to all parties to heed this call.”

The virtual Council meeting, which was attended by several Foreign Ministers as well as ambassadors, was held amid the most serious escalation in Gaza and the Israeli Occupation in years. Clashes have also broken out across the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Guterres expressed concern that the violence could have devastating far-reaching consequences.

“The fighting risks dragging Israelis and Palestinians into a spiral of violence with devastating consequences for both communities and for the entire region,” he said.

“It has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole, potentially creating a new locus of dangerous instability,” he added.

Guterres stressed that the only way forward is to return to negotiations towards a two-state solution, but the fighting is making this goal even more challenging. He reiterated the UN commitment to working with the Israeli Occupation and Palestinians, and with international and regional partners, to realize a lasting and just peace.

“This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately,” he said.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said that the humanitarian and security situation in the densely packed Gaza grows increasingly dire by the day.

The embattled health system is already overwhelmed by chronic shortages of medicine and equipment, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, more than 34,000 people have been displaced, and more than 40 schools operated by UN agency UNRWA are now serving as shelters.

Echoing Guterres' call for immediate de-escalation, Wennesland said the UN is working tirelessly on all sides to restore calm.