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UN worries over Middle East crisis,appeals for restraint

The United Nations (UN} Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, says recent escalations in the Middle East has made it more important towards lasting peace between Isreal and a full independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state.

Guterres said while addressing the Security Council on Thursday in New York,

The UN chief said failure to make progress towards a two-State solution would only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence.

With the Middle East “on a precipice”, he appealed for maximum restraint, warning against the far-reaching consequences.

“One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable – a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved – and for the rest of the world,” he said.

Guterres reiterated his strong condemnation for Iran’s large-scale attack on Israel on Saturday, and an earlier assault on the Iranian consulate in Damascus which Tehran attributed to Israel, saying “it is high time to end the bloody cycle of retaliation.”

Stressing that the international community must work together to prevent any actions that could push the entire Middle East over the edge, he highlighted the need for diplomacy that would lead to de-escalation, starting with Gaza.

“Ending the hostilities in Gaza would significantly defuse tensions across the region,” Guterres said, repeating his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate release of all hostages held in the enclave.

“The horrific terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on October 7, including mass killings, the use of sexual violence, torture, and the taking of hostages, were an intolerable denial of the most basic values of humanity, and a breach of the most fundamental rules of international law,” he added.

Meanwhile, nearly seven months of Israeli military operations in Gaza “have created a humanitarian hellscape”. Tens of thousands have been killed, including more than 13,800 children, and two million Palestinians are now living under the threat of famine.

Israel recently made several commitments to improve aid delivery, he said. For example, three convoys from the World Food Programme (WFP) were authorized to use the Erez Crossing into northern Gaza to deliver food parcels and wheat flour over a three-day period this week.

Yet, “apparent progress in one area is often cancelled out by delays and restrictions elsewhere”, meaning that “the impact is limited, and sometimes nil.”

The Secretary-General called for “a quantum leap in humanitarian aid” to avert imminent famine in Gaza, and further preventable deaths from disease.

Conditions on the ground must also be addressed so that humanitarian agencies can safely deliver aid, he added, noting that nearly 250 aid workers have been killed, including more than 180 UN personnel.

“Delivering aid at scale requires Israel’s full and active facilitation of humanitarian operations, including through a functioning humanitarian notification system – and improved and direct communications between humanitarians and military decisionmakers on the ground,” he said.

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