The UN warns of Hamas’ military build-up and calls on the world to follow through on their pledges to help rebuild Gaza.
A high-ranking United Nations official expressed concern regarding the state of affairs in the Gaza Strip, warning of a possible escalation and a repeated outbreak of violence.
Briefing the UN Security Council on Wednesday after “another tumultuous and deadly month” in the Middle East, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman warned that further escalation between Israelis and Palestinians remains a possibility and could be “highly damaging to both parties.”
“We see the circumstances in Gaza as becoming increasingly worrisome as we approach the six-month mark since the end of last summer’s conflict,” said Feltman. “The combination of the failure to rectify the persistent governance and security issues and the slow pace of reconstruction has created an increasingly toxic environment,” he stressed.
Gaza’s rehabilitation has been progressing at a slow pace, as many countries that had pledged to finance the effort have not followed through with their promises.
The current failure to deliver the necessary support has put an almost “unbearable strain on an already highly fractious environment,” Feltman said.
“Four months after the Cairo Conference, donors have yet to fulfill the majority of their pledges,” he continued. “This is, quite frankly, unacceptable and cannot continue if we hope to avoid another escalation in Gaza.”
The UN drafted a letter appealing to donors to honor their financial commitments without further delay.
Feltman did note, however, some success in the rebuilding and construction process of the Gaza Strip in the wake of Operation Protective Edge.
‘Extremely Dangerous Developments’
The UN official expressed “alarm” at the reported firing by Hamas terrorists of a rocket at Israel on January 19 and February 16, as well as the renewed test firing at sea of some 37 rockets after the end of Israel’s summer campaign against Hamas terrorism.
Referring to Hamas’ attempts to smuggle material used to produce weapons, he said that these are “extremely dangerous developments.”
The UN official envisioned the international community, possibly through the Quartet, helping to support a return to negotiations. While the UN would continue its active role in supporting such efforts, international efforts could not succeed in isolation, he explained.
“A genuine and lasting peace can only be reached by the commitment of the parties to overcome their mistrust and make the difficult compromises necessary to achieve a resolution to this conflict,” Feltman asserted.
Yet many are skeptical of such a possibility, considering that Hamas does not recognize Israel’s existence.
Despite the conflict, Israel has contributed towards the rehabilitation of Gaza. For instance, in December, the IDF coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) approved plans for the establishment of a new Coca-Cola plant, and the first nine trucks with equipment for the initial production line entered the Strip.
By: United with Israel Staff
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