UN chief urges maximum restraint in Gaza

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The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is following the protests in Gaza “with concern” and is urging all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid confrontation, AP reported.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Friday that UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov has been in contact with people on ground to reinforce the message “about the need to allow people to demonstrate peacefully.”

Dujarric said Mladenov has also stressed his own message and the secretary-general’s on “the need to ensure that excessive force is not used, and the need to ensure that children are not deliberately put in harm’s way.” In a message late Thursday, Guterres urged Israel especially “to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties.”

He also stressed “the urgency to accelerate efforts to return to meaningful negotiations” on a two-state solution.

On Sunday, Pope Francis called for peace in the Holy Land two days after many Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border, saying the conflict there “does not spare the defenseless.”

The pope made his appeal in his “Urbi et Orbi” message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a Mass.

 

He also appealed for an end to the “carnage” in Syria, calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter, and for peace in South Sudan and the DR Congo.

Francis appeared to refer directly to the Gaza violence, calling for “reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.”

Journalists wounded
Meanwhile, six Palestinian journalists were shot and wounded by the Israeli army during clashes on Friday, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said. According to the AFP, the six were shot despite wearing clothes clearly identifying themselves as journalists, adding it held Israel “fully accountable for this crime.”

None of the injuries were life threatening, but it called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
An Israeli army spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the syndicate’s statement.

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