“I am deeply alarmed by developments in Gaza after Israel launched a military operation this morning targeting members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ),” said Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
The Israeli airstrikes inside Gaza resulted in the killing of 13 Palestinians, including three members of PIJ, a doctor, five women and four children, and more than 20 injured, he said, condemning the incident.
“This is unacceptable,” he added, urging all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid an escalation.
The Special Coordinator, who works with peace process parties to advance progress on realizing a two-State solution, said his Office remains “fully engaged with all sides in an attempt to avoid a broader conflict with devastating consequences for all”.
According to news reports, the multiple Israeli airstrikes were carried out in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
His statement came a day after he had condemned the demolition of a European Union-funded primary school in the West Bank.
Persistent drivers of conflict, including school demolitions, “breed a climate of mistrust and tension between Palestinians and Israelis and undermine the prospect of achieving a political solution,” he said in the statement issued on Monday following the Israeli authorities’ demolition on 7 May.
The European Union-funded Palestinian primary school had served Jubbet adh Dhib village, east of Bethlehem, in Area C of the occupied West Bank, directly affecting the education of at least 40 children.
The demolition followed an Israeli court order citing safety concerns in response to a petition by a settler organization. Currently, 58 schools, serving 6,500 children, face the threat of demolition due to a lack of building permits that are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain, Mr. Wennesland said.
“A child’s right to education must be respected,” he said, calling on Israeli authorities to cease such demolitions and evictions, which are illegal under international law, and to approve plans for Palestinian communities to build legally in Area C to address their development needs, including for schools.
“Such acts that negatively impact basic service delivery for Palestinians, threaten stability, and undermine the Palestinian Authority,” he said.