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UN special envoy deplores civilians deaths, warns of humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The UN’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland gives a run down of the week’s incidents of violence at the UN Security Council session on Israel and Gaza.

He notes that over 100 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives have been killed in the latest round of fighting, according to the IDF. However, “civilian death tolls including children continue to mount,” and have included at least 52 children, 31 women, 1 person with disabilities,” according to Gaza authorities.

Wennesland notes the deaths of Israeli civilians, including a 5-year-old boy in Gaza and a father and daughter outside of Lod, calling such killings by Hamas “unjustified.”

“Hamas and other militants’ firing of rockets indiscriminately” from civilian areas “violates international humanitarian law and must cease immediately,” he says.

He demands that Israeli authorities follow international law requiring the use of proportional force and the exercise of maximum restraint. “Children should not be the the target of violence or be put in harms way.”

Wennesland notes that the West Bank saw the highest number of Palestinian civilian casualties in a single day since the UN started recording such figures in 2008.

The special envoy says a “humanitarian emergency is unfolding” in Gaza where the enclave’s power plant is barely running after the IDF shuttered the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

“I join the urgent call of the secretary general to take immediate and decisive steps to deescalate the situation and prevent the loss of life,” he says.

Wennesland says the ongoing violence is the result of the sides’ failure to address the roots of the conflict and work to promote a two state solution.

“The death toll is already too high,” he laments.

Both sides have the right to safety and security, Wennesland adds.

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