UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Friday for an immediate halt to fighting between Gaza and Israel.
Secretary-General Guterres warned that the ongoing conflict could “unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism,” not just in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel but also elsewhere in the Middle East region.
A UN spokesman added that Guterres urged the parties to allow mediation efforts to intensify and end the fighting more quickly. Stephane Dujarric said the UN was “actively involved” in those mediation efforts.
Guterres, who said only a sustainable political solution would lead to lasting peace, also reiterated his commitment to support Palestinians and Israelis in resolving the conflict, through the quartet of Middle East mediators including the UN, the US, the EU, and Russia, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.
The statement of the Secretary-General comes as Israel and Hamas clash, triggered by numerous events undertaken within the last month against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the prevention of voting procedures in the region within the context of the Palestinian elections, the procedure of the forceful ousting of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and aggressive interventions by the Israeli police in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex towards Palestinian worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
As of Saturday, more than 140 people, including 39 children, have been killed during the Israeli air raids over the besieged Gaza Strip.
As the violence escalates in the Strip, thousands of Palestinian families have taken shelter at United Nations-run schools in northern Gaza to escape Israeli artillery fire. The UN estimates that approximately 10,000 Palestinians have left their homes in Gaza amid the Israeli offensive.