UN envoy condemns latest violence in West Bank and Gaza

UN Middle East Envoy Alvaro De Soto. (UN/Devra Berkowitz)

NEW YORK — Urging all sides to concentrate on restoring the quiet that has prevailed in recent months, the top United Nations Middle East envoy condemned both today’s targeted killings of Palestinian militants in Gaza, and yesterday’s rocket attack on the southern Israeli town of Nativ Ha’asara that killed one Israeli woman and wounded several others.

“Without prejudice to Israel’s right to legitimate and proportional self-defence, UNSCO [the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process], reiterates the United Nations’ consistent and vocal opposition to extra-judicial killings,” said one of two statements released today by envoy Alvaro de Soto’s office in Jerusalem.

“The restraint that Israel has observed, by and large, in the last few months, has been noted. It is to be hoped that, at a time when the Palestinian Authority (PA) is clearly moving to enforce law and order, Israel, and all other parties, will refrain from activities that might contribute to a further escalation of the situation,” the statement added.

In an earlier statement condemning yesterday’s Qassam rocket attack, Mr. de Soto said that the incident illustrated once again the imperative and urgency of ensuring security and ending violence and added: “It is understandable that Israel should have felt it necessary to react strongly.”

It also said that Mr. de Soto has been following the developments in Gaza over the past 24 hours very closely and notes that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in the region.

“[Mr. de Soto] hopes that his presence there will lead to energetic action and the early restoration of calm,” the statement said.