I am gravely concerned by the ongoing and serious escalation of violence in and around Gaza between Palestinian militants and Israel which so far has claimed the lives of 13 Palestinians by Israeli airstrikes, including a 5-year-old child and one woman. Reports indicate that more than 100 Palestinians have been injured and 7 Israelis injured. Residential areas in both Gaza and Israel have been hit and houses damaged; 31 families in Gaza have already been left homeless.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza is already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation. The hostilities must stop to avoid more deaths and injuries of civilians in Gaza and Israel. The principles of international humanitarian law including those of distinction, precaution and proportionality must be respected by all parties.
Fuel for the Gaza Power Plant is due to run out today; electricity has already been cut. The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk. Movement and access of humanitarian personnel, for critical medical cases, and for essential goods, including food and fuel into Gaza, must not be impeded so that humanitarian needs can be met.
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 in accordance with international principles; this includes specifically ensuring access and safety through key border crossings. We stand ready to work with all sides to ensure humanitarian needs are met.
I reiterate the United Nations Special Coordinator’s appeal on all sides for an immediate de-escalation and halt to the violence, to avoid destructive ramifications, particularly for civilians.