Secretary General Antonio Guterres opens UNSC session with calls for truce, saying UN is "actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire".

A rescuer holds the hand of a victim at the site of Israeli air strikes, in Gaza, on May 16, 2021.
A rescuer holds the hand of a victim at the site of Israeli air strikes, in Gaza, on May 16, 2021. (Reuters)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pleaded for an immediate end to deadly Israeli violence in blockaded Gaza, warning a Security Council meeting that the fighting could plunge the region into an "uncontainable" crisis.

"Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately," Guterres said as he opened a Security Council session delayed by Israel's ally the United States, calling the violence that has killed nearly 200 people over the past week "utterly appalling."

"It has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole," he said.

READ MORE: Israel kills 42 more Palestinians in Gaza as death toll nears 200

On bombing of media building 

Guterres condemned the fresh violence on Sunday which killed 42 Palestinians, the worst death toll since Israel unleashed its aggression on the blockaded Gaza.

"This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately," Guterres said.

He also renewed criticism of an Israeli strike on Saturday that destroyed the Gaza offices of two major news outlets, Al Jazeera and the Associated Press.

"Journalists must be allowed to work free of fear and harassment. The destruction of media offices in Gaza is extremely concerning," Guterres said.

"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," Guterres said.

Extremist Jewish movements

Guterres also voiced alarm at the rise of extremist Jewish movements whose push to expel Palestinians out of Jerusalem helped trigger the crisis.

"In Israel, violence by vigilante-style groups and mobs has added a further horrendous dimension to an already deteriorating crisis," Guterres said.

"Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to curb inflammatory rhetoric and calm the rising tensions."

Palestinian FM accuses Israel of 'war crimes'

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki accused Israel of "war crimes" in its nearly week-long aggression as he urged international pressure at a UN Security Council session.

"Some may not want to use these words – war crimes and crimes against humanity – but they know they are true," Maliki told the virtual session on the crisis.

READ MORE: Thousands rally across European cities in support of Palestine

The tensions spread from occupied East Jerusalem to Gaza after Palestinian resistance groups there vowed to retaliate against Israeli assaults on the Al Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood if they were not halted. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies