Welcoming the broadly observed 12-hour humanitarian pause in the Gaza conflict, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his appeal to all parties to declare a week-long ceasefire as a prelude to restarting political negotiations.
A statement issued yesterday by Mr. Ban's spokesperson noted that there were countless images of Gazans trying to return to their daily lives while taking care of their wounded and attending to their dead during the pause, which ended on Saturday.
“These images make it clear that we owe to the people of both Israel and Gaza our renewed effort to consolidate this pause in fighting into a more sustainable ceasefire,” said the statement.
“The Secretary-General therefore urgently appeals once again to all parties to declare a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as a prelude to renewing a political process as the only way of achieving a durable peace,” it said, adding that he strongly urged the parties, at the very minimum, to extend the humanitarian pause.
On Friday, Mr. Ban wrapped up a six-day mission to the region by stressing that it is time for the parties to stop fighting and start talking. “There is no military solution to addressing the grievances and all parties must find a way to dialogue,” he told reporters in Cairo.
He added that the ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation and the “chokehold” on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition, and achieve a viable two-State solution by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, side by side.
In yesterday's statement, Mr. Ban reiterated that any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than “set the stage for the next cycle of violence.”
According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the latest Israeli military offensive in Gaza, which is home to 1.8 million people, has left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Over 170,000 people have sought shelter in UNRWA schools, “facing uncertainty, anguish and risks to their lives,” the Agency said in a news release.
“The situation in Gaza has been extreme for so many years, to the point of becoming completely unsustainable,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “This conflict has been a terrible added blow. It is taking a staggering toll on Gaza's civilians, and will leave a lasting mark for years to come – particularly on children.”
Mr. Krähenbühl was in Amman today where he met with Queen Rania Al Abdullah to discuss the crisis and express the Agency's gratitude for Jordan's continued support in facilitating the flow of humanitarian supplies through the Kingdom.
Queen Rania noted that Gaza was suffering the third round of conflict in less than six years, and stressed the need for the donor community to provide urgently-needed funds so that UNRWA can continue its life-saving assistance.
“Gaza is a protracted humanitarian disaster; its people have been trapped in a vicious cycle of bloodshed and blockade for too long. Failure to meet the desperate needs of Gaza's innocent civilians today would be a fundamental failure in our humanity,” said the Queen.