Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed New Zealand’s “grave concern” about the outbreak of conflict in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Gaza.
The protests at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque exploded last week amid growing outrage over the possible displacement of Palestinians from homes on land occupied by Jewish settlers, and they have escalated this week.
This week, at least 65 people were killed in Gaza, including 14 teenagers, and seven in Israel.
In a quote, Mahuta said that the situation is intolerable.
“The growing death toll and the large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes and Gazan rockets is unacceptable.”
Senior officials met with the Israeli Ambassador yesterday, she said.
“Officials underlined the concerning loss of life and strongly urged Israel to de-escalate to prevent the prospect of a widening conflict.”
They also raised their concern at the continued violation of international law and forced evictions occurring in East Jerusalem.
Mahuta condemned violence on both sides.
“The launching of rockets towards Israel by Hamas is unacceptable and must stop.
“At the same time any response from Israel should be restrained and must avoid civilian casualties. All sides have a responsibility to de-escalate, stop the violence and prevent further suffering and loss of life.”
The escalation in fighting has prompted the UN to issue a warning.
“We’re escalating towards a full-scale war,” United National Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Tor Wennesland said on Twitter.
“Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist in any constructive way we can to support urgent de-escalation of the situation,” Mahuta said.