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'There is no time to waste': UN Mideast envoy calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

May 29, 2024 at 5:55 pm

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland speaks to the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on February 7, 2024 [KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images]

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, on Wednesday, sounded the alarm on Gaza, saying there is no time to lose while urging for an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages, Anadolu Agency reports.

“There is no time to waste. We must reach an agreement to release the hostages and put in place an immediate ceasefire,” Tor Wennesland told a UN Security Council session on Palestine.

Noting that the UN maintains its regular contact with everyone involved in the Gaza conflict, Wennesland said: “A sustained ceasefire will be critical to a full-scale humanitarian and early recovery response to meet the immense needs in Gaza.”

Emphasising that negotiations for a ceasefire agreement are currently blocked, Wennesland warned: “As Israel rolls out a significant ground operation in and around Rafah, the devastation is only intensifying.”

READ: Israel says Gaza war likely to last another seven months as tanks probe Rafah

Calling on the parties to return to the negotiating table with good faith, Wennesland stressed that Gaza and the Occupied West Bank should be politically and economically integrated and governed by a government supported by the Palestinian people and the international community.

Noting that “the Occupied West Bank remains a pressure cooker of negative trends,” Wennesland stressed the risk of regional catastrophe is increasing day by day

“This trajectory must change if we are to avoid further catastrophe,” he warned.

Pointing out that “there can be no long-term solution in Gaza that is not fundamentally political,” Wennesland said that the scale of destruction is very large and that the estimated cost of damage to basic infrastructure is $18.5 billion.

Wennesland noted that the actual figure will be much higher and that preparations for reconstruction should also be made.

Israel has launched a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since 7 October following a Hamas attack, killing more than 37,170 people and injuring 81,400 others.

Nearly eight months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest rulings has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6 May.

READ: US-manufactured munition employed in lethal Rafah strike: Report