UNITED NATIONS, Aug 09 (APP):The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday to assess a fragile truce between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants in Gaza after three days of deadly fighting, with a UN envoy calling on all sides to abide by the agreement and the Council members denouncing the deliberate targeting of civilians, notably children.
Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told an emergency meeting of the 15-member Council that the cycle of violence will only stop with a political resolution to the decades-old conflict that ends the Israeli occupation and includes a two-State solution, based on the June 1967 borders and in line with UN resolutions and international law.
“The ceasefire remains in place as I speak,” said Wennesland, updating on events between 5 and 7 August, which marked the worst outbreak of fighting since May 2021.
Alongside efforts by the UN, Qatar, United States, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, he welcomed Egypt’s crucial role in brokering the accord.
“Together these efforts helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war,” he said, adding that it and allowed for the delivery of humanitarian relief into Gaza earlier that day.
“The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the ceasefire.”
Wennesland said that 46 Palestinians were killed and 360 injured during the recent escalation, during which Israel launched 147 strikes on Gaza and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel.
Hundreds of homes and other civilian infrastructure were destroyed. The figures are provisional and “verification is ongoing,” he added.
“While fully recognizing Israel’s legitimate security concerns I reiterate that under international law, all use of force must be proportionate and take all feasible steps to avoid civilian casualties,” Wennesland said. “Children, in particular, must never be the target of violence or put in harm’s way.”
Wennesland said that the escalation had exacerbated already chronic shortages of essential medicines in Gaza, and that the closure by Israel of the Erez crossing into the Strip for six days had severe humanitarian consequences for Gazans, including preventing patients traveling for medical treatment in Israel.
“The closures also worsened the already precarious food-security situation in the Gaza Strip, reducing stocks of basic foods, particularly wheat flour,” he said.
Wennesland thanked Egypt for the role it played in securing the ceasefire, alongside the UN, and also thanked Qatar, Jordan, the US and the Palestinian Authority for their deescalation efforts.
“Together, these efforts helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war and allowed for the delivery of much-needed humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza starting earlier today,” he told the council members.
He welcomed the “timely reopening” of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings by Israel following the ceasefire, and he called on the leaderships of Israel and Palestine, along with the international community, to step up diplomatic efforts to resume negotiations aimed at securing a viable, two-state solution.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, accused Israel of “murdering and oppressing an entire nation.” He added that Israel’s “right to security has become a license to kill and needs to be revoked,” as he urged the Security Council to “act now.”
“If you are against violence, do not exclude Israeli violence,” he added. “Do not justify it. Are you ready to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ as the highest authority responsible for the maintenance of peace and security?
“Israeli kills our people because it can. When will the world show them that it cannot?”
Mansour told council members that “defenceless Palestinian families need your support; not a nuclear power, not an occupying power,” as he asked council members “to drag the two parties to the peace process, today before tomorrow.”
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, accused PIJ members of taking their orders from Iranian puppet masters, adding: “Their hate knows no boundaries.”