The United Nations on Monday urged all parties to work to maintain the "precarious" restoration of calm reached between Israel and Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip after the escalation of violence last week, warning of the potential eruption of a new armed conflict in the region.
Over the past few days, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in the UN Security Council, the world has witnessed a "dangerous escalation of violence" in Gaza that threatened to spark an armed conflict with "catastrophic" consequences for the two million Palestinians in the area.
On Nov. 13, Israel and Gaza Palestinians reached a cease-fire after three days of clashes that began with a failed Israeli special military operation in Gaza two days prior and was followed by the launching of 460 rockets by militants in Gaza and more than 160 Israeli airstrikes in reprisal.
Mladenov urged the Islamist Hamas movement and other armed Palestinian groups to stop all provocations and attacks, and he called upon Israel to "significantly" improve movement of goods and services, as well as people, into and out of Gaza as a step toward ending the closure of border crossing points.
If one of the parties fails, they all fail, he said, adding that Israel must acknowledge that Gaza is on the verge of exploding and to prevent that the people there must see their lives become normalized.
To achieve that, the border closure must be relaxed and ultimately lifted, he said at the monthly Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
He also urged the Palestinian factions to take advantage of this opportunity to involve themselves seriously in the efforts headed by Egypt to return Gaza to the control of the legitimate Palestinian government based in the West Bank.
Cairo is mediating among the Palestinian factions to reach a permanent reconciliation and also between these groups and Israel, with UN support, to achieve a lasting cease-fire.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley agreed with Mladenov on the need for both sides to commit to the peace process, although she called attention to the alleged destabilizing role played by Iran in the region, as well as in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
In addition, Haley especially blamed Hamas, saying that only one party is attacking indiscriminately and targeting civilians, while Israel is focusing on military targets only.