The UN Secretary-General on Friday issued an urgent appeal
for all parties involved in this week's escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian enclave of Gaza, and Israel,
to "immediately cease the fighting", or risk creating an "uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis".
"The ongoing military escalation has caused great suffering and destruction", said a statement issued on behalf of António Guterres
by his Spokesperson. "It has claimed scores of civilian lives, including, tragically, many children. The fighting has
the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in
the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole. "UN 'actively involved' in mediation
The UN chief called for meditation efforts to intensify and said the UN was "actively involved in such efforts", which
are also key to maintaining the lifesaving flow of aid to Gaza.
The UN humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA
) also raised the alarm
on Friday over the continued escalation of violence, noting that civilians on both sides were bearing the brunt.
According to latest news reports, the day has seen the most intense exchanges of the week between Israeli Defense Forces
and that of the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. The enclave continues to be bombed by Israeli airstrikes and
artillery fire, while Hamas rocket barrages continue into Israel.
The UN Security Council
announced that it will convene on Sunday for an open meeting to discuss the worsening situation. Diplomatic efforts are
reportedly underway in the region, to negotiate an end to the spiralling violence.10,000 flee in Gaza
In a statement, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the region, Lynn Hastings
, said some 10,000 Palestinians had fled their homes in Gaza, with limited access to water, food, hygiene, and health
services. Hospitals and access to water and sanitation services depend on electricity, the fuel for which will run out
on Sunday, she added.
“The Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups must immediately allow the United Nations and our humanitarian
partners to bring in fuel, food, and medical supplies and to deploy humanitarian personnel. All parties must always
adhere to international humanitarian and human rights laws”, she said.‘Extensive damage’
“Civilians are suffering”, spokesperson Jens Laerke told journalists earlier, at a media briefing in Geneva, noting that
extensive damage has been reported to civilian property in densely populated areas all across the Gaza Strip, with over
200 housing units destroyed or severely damaged.
There are also reports of hundreds of people, many from refugee camps in Gaza, seeking safety and shelter in schools run
by UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, especially in the northern Gaza Strip.Humanitarian response affected
While humanitarians continue to deliver assistance on the ground, it has been “significantly restricted” by the
prevailing insecurity, Mr. Laerke added.
He noted also that Israeli authorities had closed the Erez crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip on 10 May, including
for humanitarian workers, as well as the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south, a crucial channel for goods and fuel into
“Given the limited fuel reserves, Gaza’s sole power plant”, is running “on only two of its four turbines, resulting in
rolling daily power cuts of 8-12 hours”, he said.
Mr. Laerke stressed it was “critical” that fuel for the power plant enters regularly to ensure basic services function.
“Without further provision, fuel is due to run out in the coming days. This will cause significant reduction in
electricity supply, again impacting the availability of health, water and sanitation services”.UNFPA warning over ‘already strained’ health system
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA
) said in a statement that it was “alarmed by the number of civilian casualties, including children and women caused by
the current escalation”, calling for end to the destruction of health facilities, schools, and homes across Gaza.
The UN sexual and reproductive health agency in the region said the struggling health sector was already strained “after
years of protracted crisis further exacerbated by the COVID-19
pandemic with a 20% increase in active cases in April alone”.
There are currently some 210,000 pregnant and lactating women in Palestine, according to UNFPA. And around 365 women
give birth every day – 150 in Gaza, 215 in West Bank.
“Our immediate priority is to ensure safe delivery for these women and their babies”, said UNFPA’s Arab States Regional
Director, Dr. Luay Shabaneh.
He called on all parties to stop the fighting, “to ensure the full protection of civilians and the safety of Palestinian
and Israeli women and adolescent girls, ensure maternity wards are fully operational and equipped with designated
operating rooms and sufficient staff, ensure the availability of essential supplies for safe delivery, and implement
emergency referral mechanisms”.