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UN chief warns of spillover of war in Gaza

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United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned of the spillover risks of the war in Gaza.

War and misery in Gaza are fueling turmoil far beyond, he told a high-level open debate of the Security Council on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“We are seeing dangerous developments across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where tensions are off the charts, with a dramatic increase in casualties,” he said.

Dozens of Palestinians are being arrested daily. Over 6,000 Palestinians were detained since Oct. 7, with many subsequently released. Settler violence is also another major concern. The demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned houses and other structures continues, he noted.

The Palestinian economy is in crisis. Israel’s withholding of a significant portion of Palestinian tax revenues, the continued prohibition on nearly all Palestinian workers entering Israel since Oct. 7, and severe movement and access restrictions across the West Bank are all contributing to soaring unemployment and poverty, he said.

The risks of broader regional escalation are now becoming a reality, warned Guterres.

Daily exchanges of fire across the Israeli-Lebanese border, including strikes on civilian areas, have killed six Israelis and 25 Lebanese civilians and driven tens of thousands from their homes on both sides, he said. “The risk of miscalculation is dangerously high. I urge all parties to refrain from aggressive rhetoric, and to immediately end activities that could further inflame tensions.”

The situation in the Red Sea is also deeply worrying, said the UN chief.

Houthi attacks are disrupting global trade. These have been followed by airstrikes by the United States and Britain on Houthi positions in Yemen, he noted. “De-escalation is essential, and all attacks on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea must cease immediately.”

Also, there are almost daily attacks on facilities hosting U.S. and international coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. In response, the United States has launched airstrikes targeting individuals and groups suspected of these actions. And in Syria, airstrikes that Iran and Syria have attributed to Israel, have targeted officials of Hamas and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he said. “I urge all parties to step back from the brink and to consider the horrendous human cost of a regional conflict.”

Beyond the need for immediate de-escalation, each situation demands the implementation of a clear political roadmap that would contribute to long-term regional stability, he said.

In Syria, that is a UN-facilitated political solution in line with Security Council Resolution 2254 that meets the needs of all Syrians; on the Israeli-Lebanonese border, the need for the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701; and in Yemen, the establishment of a UN roadmap to implement the commitments made by the parties and prepare for a Yemeni-owned, inclusive political process under UN auspices, said Guterres.

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