A UN envoy has called on the international community to look for a sustainable, long-term political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A cessation of hostilities is holding between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, following 11 days of the most intense hostilities in years, but the international community should not return to business as usual, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the Security Council on Thursday.
“These recent events have made clear once again the costs of perpetual conflict and lost hope. The challenges in Gaza, like this conflict as a whole, require political solutions. As we look ahead, our approach cannot be business-as-usual and we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Xinhua news agency quoted the envoy as saying.
“This is not the first time we are witnessing the end of a war in Gaza. Each time, those who lose the most are the civilians. The loss and trauma extend far beyond the period of hostilities. Ending the violence and taking steps to urgently address the humanitarian consequences are crucial.
“But we cannot stop there. This reality,and avoiding its repetition, should be the point of departure for all of us as we look toward sustainable, long-term solutions to this conflict,” he added.
He said the international community must avoid the pull of short-term fixes and must work toward resolving the deadlock in Gaza and the Palestinian divide, situations that have been left unresolved for over 14 years and require real political solutions.
“Only through negotiations that end the occupation and create a viable two-state solution, on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, can we hope to bring a definitive end to these senseless and costly cycles of violence,” said Wennesland.
From May 10 to 21, 253 Palestinians, including at least 66 children, 38 women and three persons with disabilities, were killed during Israeli airstrikes and shelling.
At least 126 of these were civilians.
One journalist was also killed. In some cases, entire families, including women, children and infants, were killed in their homes, he said.
Over the same period, nine Israelis, as well as three foreign nationals were killed by indiscriminate rockets and mortars launched by Hamas and other militants in Gaza.
One soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile fired near the Gaza perimeter fence, he said.
Hamas and other militants fired more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza at an unprecedented intensity and scope with a significant number intercepted by Iron Dome and others landing short inside Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces conducted over 1,500 airstrikes in Gaza against what it said were militant targets belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 1,948 Palestinians were injured in these strikes and over 112,000 people were displaced.
The vast majority have returned home, but approximately 9,000 people remain displaced, with their homes destroyed or uninhabitable.