Conflicts & War

UN chief “deeply concerned” as Gaza violence continues

(Update 3: Updates death toll)

Jerusalem, May 16 (EFE).- The United Nations secretary-general said Sunday he is “deeply concerned” by the escalating violence between Palestinian militants and Israel that has killed scores of people in the past week.

The Health Ministry in Gaza reported that the death toll rose to at least 192 on Sunday, including 58 children and 34 women, while 1,235 others have been wounded.

“The fighting must stop. It must stop immediately. Rockets and mortars on one side and aerial and artillery bombardments on the other must stop. I appeal to all parties to heed this call,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

“The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure,” he said, adding: “The fighting risks dragging Israelis and Palestinians into a spiral of violence with devastating consequences for both communities and for the entire region.”

Guterres’s appeal for calm came as Israeli Justice Minister Benny Gantz met with the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, who arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday to lead the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to end the bloodshed.

Egypt, meanwhile, has reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to allow stranded Palestinians and patients to obtain treatment at Egyptian hospitals, a Palestinian official told EFE.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not give further information about how long Gaza’s only key crossing point to the outside world would remain open.

Israeli attacks early on Sunday morning included 50 bombings in less than 15 minutes, destroying the family residence of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Islamist movement Hamas since 2017, although Sinwar was not at home.

His brother’s house was also destroyed in the airstrikes, Israel said.

The Israeli bombings, which eyewitnesses in Gaza said targeted civilian buildings, were the heaviest since the start of the worst outbreak of violence in the region in years.

Five houses in Gaza were destroyed in the bombardment, killing at least five civilians, including three children, a Health Ministry spokesman confirmed.

Palestinian militants have been continuously firing rockets into Israeli territory since Monday, with 130 launched overnight.

An Israeli military spokesman said a total of 2,900 rockets have been fired by Palestinian militants since the start of the violence, with 450 of them going down over Gaza without reaching Israeli territory while 1,150 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

At least 10 people have died in Israel in the rocket attacks.

Escalating tensions boiled over due to Palestinians’ frustrations with strict health measures imposed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the proposed forced evictions of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish settlers, which led to clashes at a Jerusalem holy site.

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