Year Ends As ‘Deadliest’ in Palestine Conflict History – UN Official

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland. (Photo: Daniela Penkova, United Nations)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“I unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza – including women and children” – Tor Wennesland

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, has lamented that as the Gaza crisis continues, the year ends as one of the deadliest in the history of the Middle East conflict. 

In a briefing to the Security Council members on Tuesday, Wennesland said “As the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza rages on, 2023 ends as one of the deadliest in the history of this conflict, with the situation deteriorating on nearly all fronts.”

His report covered the period between September 19 and December 7, 2023. 

Wennesland said, “The magnitude of hostilities between Israel and Hamas and the scope of death and destruction in Gaza have been unprecedented and unbearable to witness.”

“I unequivocally condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza – including women and children,” he added.

“I mourn the loss of every civilian, including 131 United Nations colleagues, the single largest loss of life in the history of the organization,” he said.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 19,667 Palestinians have been killed and 52,586 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. 

On the humanitarian situation in Gaza, he said “the current conditions are making it impossible for meaningful humanitarian operations to be conducted.”

Settler Attacks and Settlements on the West Bank

The UN official expressed his “deep concern” for “the escalating tensions” in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

“Intensified armed exchanges between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, predominantly in the context of Israeli operations, have led to exceedingly high levels of fatalities and arrests,” he said.

“I reiterate that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life.”

He said he was “alarmed by the lethal attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and by Palestinians against Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Israel.”

Wennesland added that “I remain deeply troubled by the relentless expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, that is impeding access by Palestinians to their land and resources, and threatening the viability of a future independent Palestinian State.”

He called on the Israeli government “to cease the advancement of all settlement activity immediately.”The Israeli settlements, he stressed, constitute a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions.

Re-engage Peace Talks

The UN official said “this war, once again, served as a devastating and tragic reminder that there is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict.” Adding that it was critical to enable the parties “to re-engage on the long-delayed political path to a two-state solution.”

He said the UN “remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis in ending the occupation and resolving the conflict in line with international law.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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