United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Arab regional intervention in the wake of the latest clashes to occur in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Commenting at a Wednesday press conference, Ki-Moon encouraged Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and other regional leaders to help facilitate a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. He said this would be an end to a “new wave of violence that has engulfed Gaza, southern Israel and the West Bank”.
“Gaza is on a knife-edge. The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get beyond anyone’s control,” Ki-Moon said, “The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war.”
As a step to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza, the Secretary General encouraged Al-Sisi to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian purposes.
On Thursday, Egyptian authorities announced they would open the crossing to allow Egyptian hospitals to treat casualties from Gaza. The statement, made through the Palestinian embassy in Egypt, would only let wounded Palestinians through the crossing.
State-run news agency MENA said that hospitals in North Sinai have been put on standby to receive Palestinian civilians. The Palestinian embassy’s statement also noted that complete hospital wards in the town of Al-Arish have been designated for Palestinians.
When violence between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last flared up in 2012, then-President Mohamed Morsi was instrumental in brokering a shaky but lasting ceasefire.
Since Morsi’s ouster, however, the Rafah crossing has largely remained closed, with tensions between the occupied territories and Egypt becoming tense. The Egyptian army has also destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border, often used to bring crucial goods into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The latest violence between Israel and the occupied territories flared up three weeks ago when three kidnapped Israeli students were found dead in the West Bank. A young Palestinian was found burned alive shortly afterwards in an apparent revenge attack.
The tensions quickly devolved into rocket attacks from Gaza and a coordinated air campaign called Operation Protective Edge by the Israelis.
Over 70 Palestinians, nearly half of them women and children have been killed according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
There have been no reported Israeli casualties as crude rockets launched from Gaza are often intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.