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Al Jazeera: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the “most serious escalation” of violence in the Gaza Strip places the besieged enclave on the “brink of war”, urging Israel and Hamas to recommit to a 2014 ceasefire.

The UN chief said in a report obtained by news agencies that he is “shocked” by Israel’s use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March 30.

Guterres said its military has “a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint” except as a last resort.

The report was sent to the council last week in advance of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” Guterres said.

“They must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury.”

Israel has not yet responded to the accusations.

Guterres also told the Security Council that he “unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He warned that actions by Hamas and other Palestinian groups not only risk Palestinian and Israeli lives but “efforts to restore dignity and the prospects of a livable future for Palestinians in Gaza”, citing rockets fired at Israel and attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel fence by some protesters.

Since weekly mass protests began along the Israel-Gaza border on March 30, at least 130 Palestinians have been killed and 13,000 others wounded by Israeli army fire.

The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials. Two Palestinian journalists were killed while covering the protests in April and two medics including a 21-year-old were also shot dead in May and early June.

James Bays, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor reporting from the United Nations headquarters in New York, said that these kind of reports mainly “raise the issues”.

“The US is very strongly – particularly this administration – on the side of Israel, so they will block anything that they do not like,” Bays said.

“Of course we’ve had the general assembly take action with a resolution. I think it worths reminding viewers that on the central issues, whenever the security council has discussed them recently, it’s been a situation of 14-1 with most of the security council – all but the US – on one side and the US on the other.

“I think reports like this – although they won’t have any effect – they certainly raise the issues again and I think show that the international community isn’t particularly happy with the way things are moving
and being directed by the Trump adminsitration.”

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