Briefing by Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) on the situation in the Middle East – 8730th Security Council Meeting.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called for “an immediate stop to the firing of rockets and mortars that only risk dragging Gaza into another round of hostilities with no end in sight.”
Addressing the Security Council via video link today (24 Feb), the Special Coordinator Mladenov briefed the Council Members on the situation in and around Gaza. He noted that the situation is escalating with continuing projectiles being fired from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes. He reiterated, “the indiscriminate launching of rockets against civilian population centres violates international law and must end.”
According to the UN, overall, during the reporting period over 100 projectiles were fired from Gaza towards Israeli communities, injuring four people, including a woman and a child. More than 100 incendiary balloons were released towards Israel, many carrying explosive devices. In response, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) fired 102 missiles against Hamas and PIJ targets in Gaza, injuring seven Palestinians, including two children.
Mladenov also highlighted the ongoing health disaster in the Gaza Strip. He said, “according to local interlocutors, as of the end of January, stock levels for 46 per cent of essential medicines have been completely depleted.”
The Special Coordinator continued, “on 18 February the IDF enabled a shipment of medicines worth some NIS 4 million (USD 1.2 million) to enter Gaza. This shipment will somewhat alleviate the dire situation, however I encourage the Palestinian Government to work with the United Nations and to increase its efforts to help resolve Gaza’s ongoing health crisis.”
Mladenov also told the Council that the threat of annexation remains. He noted that Israeli and US officials have said that such a step would only be advanced after a joint committee completes a process of producing detailed maps of relevant areas of the occupied West Bank. On 15 February, the U.S. confirmed the formation of the joint committee.
He said, “the Secretary-General has consistently spoken out against unilateral steps and plans for annexation. Such steps, including the possible annexation of territory in the West Bank or similar moves, would have a devastating impact on the prospect for a two-state solution. They would close the door to negotiations, have negative repercussions across the region, and severely undermine opportunities for normalization and regional peace.”
On the situation in West Bank, Mladenov said that the violence has also continued. He reiterated that “violence against civilians, and particularly against children, is unacceptable, and must be condemned by all.”
He stated, “Israeli security forces must also exercise maximum restraint and only use lethal force when strictly necessary. All incidents must be thoroughly investigated.”
The Special Coordinator also took the opportunity to remind the Council that UNRWA continues to face major financial challenges. He said, “without further financial support, critical services in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, will be suspended as of late April.”
Mladenov explained, “this would result in serious humanitarian repercussions, particularly for some of the most acutely vulnerable communities, among them female-headed households below the poverty line.”