United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an emergency Security Council meeting on the worsening crisis in Gaza even as Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” entered its third day, BBC reported Thursday.
The 15-member body is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the violence that’s building up to be the bloodiest conflict the region has witnessed since an eight-day war in 2012. In a series of phone calls to Palestinian and Israeli leaders late Wednesday night, Ban called for an immediate stop to hostilities and said the region cannot “afford another full-blown war.”
Ban, at a news conference Wednesday, reportedly warned that the situation in Gaza is "on a knife’s edge" and that the “lives of countless innocent civilians and the peace process itself” are hanging in the balance. “There is a very real risk of violence getting out of control,” Ban said.
He also condemned Israel’s air strikes on Gaza in which over 60 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed since Tuesday. “I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians,” Ban said.
The U.N. chief said that he had also spoken to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and urged regional leaders to play a “vital role” toward brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas.
“I urged President Sisi and others to help facilitate a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," he said.
Ban’s statements come at a time when Israel has carried out more than 230 air strikes as part of its operation Protective Edge and has called for a further intensification of attacks on Hamas, which it blames for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank. Hamas has, however, consistently denied the allegations. A day after the funeral of the three teenagers, a 17-year-old Palestinian was abducted from East Jerusalem and murdered, in what was perceived to be a retaliatory attack, triggering protests that steadily escalated into a full-blown military crisis.