UN Mideast envoy urges Israel, Palestine to avoid escalation in Gaza, East Jerusalem

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland Saturday called on Israel and Palestine to avoid escalation in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

“I condemn all such acts of violence, and I reiterate my call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan,” he said in a press statement sent to Xinhua.

Over the past two days, violent clashes broke out in East Jerusalem between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police forces during their protests against assaults of extreme Israeli groups in the city.

In support of the protests in East Jerusalem, militant groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), fired a barrage of more than 35 rockets and projectiles from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel.

Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses said Israeli fighter jets struck early Saturday military posts and facilities that belong to militant groups in Gaza in response to the rockets fire.

“I am alarmed by the recent escalations in Jerusalem and around Gaza,” Wennesland said. “The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease and the launch of rockets toward Israeli population centers must stop.”