TEL AVIV – UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Sunday appealed to the Palestinians to cease all rocket, mortar and incendiary kite attacks on Israel.
“I have to appeal to all Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov said.
“I have to appeal to all parents of children in Gaza today to step back and keep the protests peaceful,” he added, in reference to the ongoing “March of Return” border riots of the past few months, which have included planting explosives on the border fence, throwing Molotov cocktails, burning tires and flying “terror” kites and balloons armed with petrol bombs.
“I appeal to the Palestinian factions to not provoke incidents at the fence, to stop firing rockets and mortars, to stop the incendiary kites and to give peace a chance,” Mladenov said.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh had reportedly told Mladenov earlier that day that the riots would continue until the Israeli blockade on Gaza was lifted.
“This is a confrontation that nobody wants, nobody needs — a confrontation from which everybody would lose. Palestinians in Gaza for the last decade have lived in three conflicts. Israelis across the fence have lived with a constant threat of rocket attacks for the last decade. This cycle has to stop. It has to end. We are one step away from another confrontation, and everybody needs to take a step back,” Mladenov said.
He added that he knew the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip makes it “very difficult to believe the international community or anyone else who comes and tells you that your lives will be improved.”
The UN envoy also petitioned Israel to show “restraint in its responses to the situation” in Gaza. “I appeal to [Israeli] snipers not to fire at children,” Mladenov said. “I appeal to everybody to step back from the brink.”
Mladenov called on the world to remember the Palestinians “who have lived for generations without a state.”
Gazans, he said, “have had enough of war.”
“Parents should be able to allow their children to play freely in the streets,” Mladenov said. “We in the international community have a responsibility to move immediately and live up to the expectation of providing not just assistance to the people of Gaza, but also charting a political way forward. Our allies in this are the Palestinian people themselves. Our partners are the Palestinian government and anyone who wants to see an end to this current escalation.”
The way forward, Mladenov said, was to “restor[e] calm and end the shelling and firing.”
The next task was to “solve the humanitarian problems of Gaza, to create jobs for people, provide electricity, fix the healthcare system and provide water.”
However, he admitted that ameliorating the coastal enclave’s humanitarian crisis would not solve its political quagmire, in which Hamas and rival group Fatah were still embroiled. He called on the parties to resume their reconciliation process.
The other step in the political process, he said, was “improving access and movement for the people of Gaza through Israel and Egypt.”
“We will continue working with the Israeli authorities to improve access and movement restrictions for Gaza and to allow for more exports and imports for the people here. Without an economy, without people seeing opportunities, another escalation will come by very quickly,” he added.