The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the escalation of violence in Gaza is “a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is,” and he is urging Israel and Gaza’s Hamas government to recommit to the cease-fire that ended their 2014 war.
The UN chief said in a report to the Security Council obtained on Monday by The Associated Press that he is “shocked” by the Israeli Defense Forces’ use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March 30. He said its military has “a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint” except as a last resort.
“The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” Guterres said. “They must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury.”
Guterres also warned that actions by Hamas and other groups not only risk Palestinian and Israeli lives but “efforts to restore dignity and the prospe cts of a livable future for Palestinians in Gaza.” He cited rockets fired at Israel and attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel fence by some protesters.
“I unequivocally condemn the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile situation,” the secretary-general said.
Since near-weekly mass protests began along the Israel-Gaza border, more than 120 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire. The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says Hamas has used the protests as cover for attacks on the border fence.