Rocket fire this week across the border between Gaza and Israel shows how close the region is “to the brink of war” a senior United Nations official warned on Wednesday, urging the international community to do more to help Israelis and Palestinians return to the negotiating table.
Briefing the Security Council, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that the recent hostilities marked the most serious escalation since the 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Earlier this month, a UN human rights expert had called on the Israeli Government to immediately cease its lethal assault against protesters at the Gaza fence, who appear to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side of the fence.
Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, condemned Israel’s excessive use of force towards largely unarmed demonstrators at the Gaza fence, which has left 58 Palestinians dead, and almost 2,800 wounded.
Quoting reports from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Mr. Mladenov informed the Council that between 28 and 30 May, 216 different projectiles, rockets and mortar shells, were fired from Gaza towards Israel. One projectile hit a school playground and another caused damage to a house.
In response, Israeli jets carried out strikes on 65 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza and destroyed a two-kilometre tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing, he added, noting that no casualties or serious injuries were reported as a result of either strikes.
Since early morning on Wednesday, Mr. Mladenov added that the situation has “quieted down,” stressing that the calm must be “preserved at all costs.”