UN envoy: Crisis in Gaza a danger to both Palestinians and Israelis

UN envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov warns that the situation in Gaza is currently the greatest threat to the peace process: "Unless urgent measures are taken to de-escalate, the crisis risks spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis alike."
UN Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

UN envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov said today (Wednesday) that if the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza deteriorates, it could have security implications for Israel because another conflict in Gaza would destroy any possibility of renewing diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "I am today warning the Security Council that unless urgent measures are taken to de-escalate, the crisis risks spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis alike," he said.

Though he refused to comment on reports of a deal being forged between Israel and Hamas to return the bodies of two IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians in Gaza, Mladenov said that he is expecting to meet with the soldiers' families in the coming days.

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Referring to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, Mladenov said that it keeps him awake at night: "In Gaza, we are walking into another crisis with our eyes wide open," he said. According to Mladenov, Gaza has seen a dramatic decline in the last three months: The electricity crisis has left most Gazans with only hours of electricity a day; the sewage systems in Gaza have collapsed, resulting in 100,000 tons of sewage being poured into the Mediterranean every day- the size of 40 Olympic pools; prices of vegetables have risen by 50%; and the hospitals have found themselves in a difficult and sensitive situation. The only real reason that things have not completely collapsed, he said, is the transfer of fuel from Egypt to Gaza's power plants.

"The UN has warned that without addressing the structural problems of Gaza's electricity supply we would face a humanitarian crisis," Mladenov said. “How long do you think they can survive if this is further reduced to two hours of electricity per day? Who will pay the price of the ensuing violence and escalation?"

Tonight, a special meeting is supposed to take place at the UN's Security Council behind closed doors and Mladenov is expected to provide an update- via video call from Jerusalem- on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Yesterday, the UN published a special report marking a decade of Hamas control in the Gaza Strip. The report's findings determined that the situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating more rapidly than previously predicted, saying that Gaza will be "unlivable" in just three years' time.



Click Here for more reports by Chelsea Mosery Birnbaum

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