Palestinian medics carry a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of the southern Gaza Strip City of Khan Younis, on June 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)
UNITED NATIONS, July 24 (Xinhua) -- UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Tuesday reiterated his "call to all in Gaza to step back from the brink," saying "those who seek to provoke Israelis and Palestinians to war must not succeed."
In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Mladenov said it has taken an intense effort at preventive diplomacy by the UN and Egypt to make sure that both Israel and Hamas step back from the brink and from potentially a fourth military confrontation in Gaza over past decade.
On Friday, four Palestinians were killed and some 210 Palestinians wounded during fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic movement that rules Gaza. The fighting, triggered by the killing of an Israeli soldier, was the most serious one in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict that killed thousands.
Also, since late March when the Palestinians staged the Great March of Return protests, the death toll of protesters has exceeded 140. The movement, which peak every Friday, demands the return of Palestinian refugees and the lift of the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza.
In Tuesday's briefing, Mladenov identified the root causes of "this man-made catastrophe" -- intractable conflict, over 50 years of occupation, and over a decade of Hamas control of Gaza, Palestinian division and a crippling Israeli closure regime.
He said for four years, the UN has urged concerted action to address these causes but little has been achieved. "The underlying dynamics have not improved. The humanitarian crisis has deepened, political stalemate between Hamas and Fatah has worsened, and the prospect of another deadly round of violence is growing by the day."
The UN envoy said he has been in engagement with Israel and the Palestinians as well as regional and international partners to reduce tensions, to address humanitarian challenges and to support the Egyptian-led intra-Palestineian reconciliation process.
After Friday's fierce fighting, Hamas announced it had reached a ceasefire agreement with Israel as a result of efforts led by Egypt and the UN.
In closing, Mladenov reaffirmed the goal of reaching a broader Israeli-Palestinian peace on basis of two-state solution, in which Gaza is an integral part of future Palestinian state.