UN head Antonio Guterres implored warring parties in Israel and the Gaza Strip to halt bloodshed as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan came to a close, amid reports that Israeli officials rejected a ceasefire plan floated by Egypt.
“Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel,” the secretary-general said in a tweet on Thursday night, referring to the final night of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, when Muslims break their month-long fast.
Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.
Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel. Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 13, 2021
Guterres’ impassioned appeal came during the fourth consecutive night of missile and airstrikes between the Israeli military and Palestinian militias based in Gaza. Days of chaotic protests over looming evictions of Palestinian families living in East Jerusalem culminated on Monday, seeing security forces crack down on demonstrations, also storming the Al Aqsa mosque as worshippers gathered inside, prompting the first volley of rocket fire from Hamas that night.
Since then, more than 100 Palestinians have died in a string of IDF bombing raids across Gaza, among them 28 children, while at least six Israelis lost their lives in rocket blasts, including one IDF soldier and one child.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to make Hamas “pay a heavy price” and keep up the offensive on Thursday night, the bombing appears set to continue. Sources cited by Al Arabiya, meanwhile, said that an Egyptian delegation traveled to Tel Aviv to propose a “humanitarian truce,” but left the city after the plan was rejected by Israeli officials.
Though the IDF was preparing a potential ground invasion, it apparently stopped short of sending in troops on Thursday night. A military spokesperson later confirmed as much, saying that, for now, boots would not cross the border, and that ground forces would only take part in artillery shelling from within Israeli territory.
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