A Palestinian man inspects a destroyed Islamic Jihad military base after it was targeted by an Israeli warplane, at the southern Gaza Strip May 30, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov appealed to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to halt rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. He also called on Palestinians to stop launching incendiary kites toward Israel.
Mladenov, who played a key role in reaching Saturday’s ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, made his appeal during a news conference in Gaza City.
“I have to appeal to all Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov said. “I have to appeal to all parents of children in Gaza today to step back and keep the protests peaceful.”
The UN representative was referring to the ongoing weekly protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which Palestinians call the “March of Return.”
“I appeal to the Palestinian factions to not provoke incidents at the fence, to stop firing rockets and mortars, to stop the incendiary kites and to give peace a chance,” Mladenov said.
“This is a confrontation that nobody wants, nobody needs – a confrontation from which everybody would lose. Palestinians in Gaza for the last decade have lived in three conflicts. Israelis across the fence have lived with a constant threat of rocket attacks for the last decade. This cycle has to stop. It has to end. We are one step away from another confrontation, and everybody needs to take a step back.”
Mladenov said he was aware that, given the difficult conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, “it’s very difficult to believe the international community or anyone else who comes and tells you that your lives will be improved.”
He also appealed to Israel to display “restraint in its responses to the situation” in Gaza. “I appeal to [Israeli] snipers not to fire at children,” Mladenov said. “I appeal to everybody to step back from the brink.”
The UN representative also appealed to the international community not to forget the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians “who have lived for generations without a state.” The Palestinians in the Strip, he added, “have had enough of war.”
“Parents should be able to allow their children to play freely in the streets,” Mladenov said. “We in the international community have a responsibility to move immediately and live up to the expectation of providing not just assistance to the people of Gaza, but also charting a political way forward. Our allies in this are the Palestinian people themselves. Our partners are the Palestinian government and anyone who wants to see an end to this current escalation.”
Mladenov said there was only one way to move forward – “by restoring calm and ending the shelling and firing.” The second step, he said, would be to “solve the humanitarian problems of Gaza, to create jobs for people, provide electricity, fix the healthcare system and provide water.”
THE UN is working, together with its partners, on a specific plan to immediately move on these priorities, in coordination with the Palestinian government, Mladenov stated. He acknowledged, however, that fixing the humanitarian problems of Gaza would not solve the political problems.
“Fixing the political problem means two things,” he explained.
“Improving access and movement for the people of Gaza through Israel and Egypt. We will continue working with the Israeli authorities to improve access and movement restrictions for Gaza and to allow for more exports and imports for the people here.
Without an economy, without people seeing opportunities, another escalation will come by very quickly.”
The second step, according to the top UN representative, is for Hamas and Fatah to return to the “reconciliation process.” He appealed to the two rival parties to take Egypt’s recent initiatives to end the Palestinian internecine dispute very seriously.
Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said on Sunday that their movement gained the upper hand in the latest flare-up of violence. The Palestinians, they added, will continue to hold the weekly protests along the border with Israel.
“The Palestinian resistance groups had the final say,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. He was speaking during the funeral of two Palestinian teenagers, Luay Kheil and Amir al-Nimra, who were killed in an Israel Air Force strike in Gaza City on Saturday.
Haniyeh said that Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip were determined to prevent Israel from “imposing new rules of engagement.”
Haniyeh said that the protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel “will continue and intensify until the problems of the people are solved and the blockade is lifted.” He said that he met in Gaza City with Mladenov and told him that the Palestinians no longer believe in promises and want to see tangible results on the ground. “The blockade on the Gaza Strip has to end once and for all,” Haniyeh reportedly told the UN official
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