The UN chief Antonio Guterres and representatives of several other states have urged an immediate halt to the violence in Palestine at the start of a General Assembly emergency meeting, as Israeli aggression against Palestine continued on the field.
"If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today,” UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres has said as he called for urgent de-escalation of violence against Palestine.
"I was horrified by reports that nine members of one family were killed in the Al Shati refugee camp," in Gaza, Guterres said in his address at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
Guterres told Thursday’s in-person meeting in the assembly chamber that he and the UN Mideast envoy are engaged in “extensive diplomatic efforts” in the region, including with Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar to stop the fighting.
At least 232 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza since May 10, including 65 children, 39 women, and 17 elderly.
He called on all members of the international community “to do everything in their power to enable the parties to conflict to step back from the brink.”
The unconscionable death, suffering & destruction of the past 10 days only push the prospect of sustained peace further into the future.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 20, 2021
An immediate ceasefire and a revitalized Middle East peace process are the only route to a just and lasting solution. pic.twitter.com/D2cv49tWPS
'Israel is occupying our land'
The General Assembly meeting was requested by Niger and Algeria, respectively the current chairs of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group at the United Nations.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki minced no words in rejecting statements made by world leaders suggesting that Israel is defending itself through its offensive on Gaza, maintaining its aim is to "sow the seeds of terror."
"It is not pretending it was a mistake. It is not even apologising. It is rather reaffirming that it is its right to commit these crimes, to kill innocent people, and it is blaming the victim," Maliki said.
"Israel is a colonisation power. It is occupying our land. It is persecuting a whole people. Israel would ask you, ‘what would you have done if missiles were targeting your cities?’ But Israel forgets that its occupation is the root cause of the violence," he said.
Guterres earlier had said, "There is no justification, including counterterrorism or self-defense, for the abdication by the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law."
Calling on both parties to abide by international human laws, Guterres urged for an end to "indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and other militant groups towards population centres in Israel, resulting in at least 12 fatalities including two children, and hundreds of injuries, is also unacceptable."
The toll given by Guterres differs from that given by Israeli police, which says rockets have claimed 12 lives including one child.
'Negotiations should include ending the occupation'
The Turkish president of the 75th UN General Assembly also called on Israel and Palestine to swiftly "return to the negotiations with a goal of ending the occupation."
"The way forward to end tension between two nations is addressing all final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem, and achieving two independent sovereign states – Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition with the basis of the pre-1967 lines, Jerusalem as the capital of both states," Volkan Bozkir said during his opening remarks.
"The parties must step away from the brink and respect international law. Israel, as an occupying power, must ensure compliance with its international humanitarian law obligations, including proportionate use of force," he said.
"Palestinians should not live under perpetual fear of eviction from their homes because of expanding settler colonialism in the West Bank," he continued. "The eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah could constitute a war crime under international law."
BM Genel Kurul Başkanı olarak bugün Filistin konulu Genel Kurul toplantısında yaptığım açılış konuşmasının metni.— Volkan BOZKIR (@volkan_bozkir) May 20, 2021
Text of my opening statement at the UN General Assembly plenary I convened today, for a joint debate on “The situation in the Middle East” & “Question of Palestine”. pic.twitter.com/b0nChhHPMn
'Israel alone is responsible'
Turkey's top diplomat strongly criticised Israeli actions in Gaza and called for an end to fighting in the region.
Mevlut Cavusoglu brushed aside "both sides" arguments for the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine, maintaining Tel Aviv is the sole responsible party.
"Israel alone is responsible for what is happening today in Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza," Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu maintained that Israel's 14-year blockade of Gaza has effectively turned the besieged coastal enclave "into the largest open-air prison in the world," noting over 2 million people live in a territory of just 365 sq km.
"Through repetition, the perpetrators of this tragedy want us to become insensitive to these outrageous crimes, the oppression of the Palestinian people, and violations of their basic human rights and freedoms," said Cavusoglu.
"However, we will not remain silent in the face of unspeakable atrocities and brutality, because we know that silence in the face of injustice, equals to being accomplice to the crimes committed. He who remains silent in the face of injustice is a mute devil," he added.