After last week’s deadly violence near the Gaza fence and with fresh protests planned at the Gaza-Israel border tomorrow, the United Nations has urged all parties to refrain from any act that could lead to further violence or place civilians – especially children – in harm’s way.
In a statement Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called upon all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint.
“I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties. Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully,” he stressed.
The UN chief also highlighted the urgency to accelerate efforts to “return to meaningful negotiations that will eventually allow Palestinians and Israelis to live in two democratic states side by side in peace and within secure and recognized borders.”
Mr. Guterres reaffirmed the UN’s readiness to support these efforts.
Echoing the Secretary-General, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process also called upon Israeli forces to exercise restraint and on the Palestinians to avoid friction at the Gaza fence.
“I am following with concern the continuing preparations and rhetoric for this Friday’s ‘Great Return March’ in Gaza,” he said, noting that demonstrations and protests must be allowed to proceed in a peaceful manner.
“Civilians, particularly children, must not be intentionally put in danger or targeted in any way,” he added.
The call by the United Nations follows clashes last Friday, 30 March, during which thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel to protest the long-standing blockade of the enclave.
According to reports from the Palestinian Health Ministry, 15 Palestinians had been killed and more than 1,000 injured.
Some of the casualties were reportedly the result of live ammunition used by Israeli security forces during the March. Other casualties followed armed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including the shelling of a Hamas observation point.
There were also reports from Israeli security forces of militants attempting to get through the fence an in attempt to plant explosives. Palestinians also reportedly sent a nine-year-old girl through the fence, but Israeli forces were able to send her safely back.
In the aftermath of the clashes the UN Secretary-General called for an independent and transparent investigation the incident. The Security Council had also convened an emergency meeting on the clashes.
‘Zero stocks’ for nearly half of essential medicines
Quoting partners on the ground, a UN spokesperson said today that supplies of essential drugs and medical disposables are running low at health facilities in the enclave while an ongoing electricity crisis that has hampered the functioning of hospitals.
“There are currently zero stock levels for nearly half of the list of essential drugs and for a quarter of the list of essential [medical] disposables in Gaza,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, said at a regular news briefing in New York.
“An estimated $1 million is urgently required to support the health system in Gaza for drugs, disposables, equipment, gases and lab materials in the coming 6 to 8 weeks,” he added, noting that humanitarian partners are working to prioritize urgently required medical items and coordinating the disbursement of supplies in preparation for the expected medical increased needs.