Tensions could escalate to ‘full-scale war’, UN Middle East envoy warns

#item_description], The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process added his voice to calls for calm in the Occupied Palestinian Territory late on Tuesday, warning that the situation is “escalating towards a full-scale war”, amid continuing air strikes and rocket attacks.

“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war”, Tor Wennesland said in a post on Twitter.

Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now

— Tor Wennesland (@TWennesland) May 11, 2021

According the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of 5 pm Tuesday (local time) at least 28 people, including 10 children, were reported to have been killed in Gaza in Israeli airstrikes, and two women were killed in Israel as a result of rockets fired from Gaza. Many more are said to be injured on both sides.

Mr. Wennesland stressed that the “cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people”.

“Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation … stop the violence now”, he added.

Protect children

UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, expressed “profound concern” over the impact of the military escalation on children and called on parties to exercise maximum restraint.

“Our hearts go out to their families and friends in communities that have been so cruelly affected by this latest escalation”, UNRWA said in a statement.

“Children are and must be protected under International Law and those responsible for breaching their obligations must be held fully accountable on the basis of clear evidence”, it added, reiterating its appeal to all parties “to exercise maximum restraint and comply with their obligations under International Law in the strictest terms, including with regard to protecting the inherent right to life of children”.

Humanitarian concerns

OCHA also highlighted that current escalation in the region risks worsening “an already poor humanitarian situation”, especially in Gaza, where the struggling health sector is further burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of immediate concern is the shutdown of Gaza’s sole power plant by the end of this week due to lack of fuel, with negative consequences for the provision of vital services”, it said.

OCHA added that the humanitarian community, including UN agencies and the NGO partners, are continuing to deliver assistance to those in need, with the protection of civilians of paramount importance.

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