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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Middle East on verge of full-scale war – UN

Antonio Guterres has condemned both the bombing of the Iranian consulate and Tehran’s retaliation against Israel

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged for maximum restraint, warning that the entire Middle East is on the brink of a full-scale war in the wake of Iran’s drone and missile strike on Israel this weekend.

The attack came in retaliation for an airstrike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month, which killed seven members of Iran’s military, including two generals. Tehran accused West Jerusalem of conducting an extraterritorial assassination. While Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that Israel strikes its “enemies all over the Middle East,” two days after the April 1 consulate strike.

Read more: Iran reacts to US strikes in Middle East

The entire region is facing a devastating conflict after these events, Guterres warned. “Now is the time to defuse and deescalate,” he said, urging “maximum restraint.”

While he “strongly condemned” the large-scale attack on Israel, he also reiterated his condemnation of the bombing of Tehran’s consular buildings in Damascus earlier this month, calling for an “immediate cessation of these hostilities.”

Guterres also urged for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where over 33,000 people have been killed in Israeli strikes over the past six months, according to local health officials. West Jerusalem declared war and vowed to annihilate the Gaza-based militant group Hamas after it conducted a surprise raid on Israeli soil, killing more than 1,100 people and taking around 250 hostages. The UN has previously warned that the deteriorating humanitarian situation and inadequate flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza is leading to starvation among the displaced civilian population of the enclave.

Read more: Middle East ‘totally out of control’ – Trump

The UN chief called for the unconditional release of all hostages, unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid, and the reestablishment of safe navigation in the Red Sea, which is currently hampered by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The group has been attacking shipping in the region in solidarity with the Palestinians, vowing to continue until the Gaza siege is broken.

With “regional and indeed global peace and security” undermined, Guterres said, “neither the region nor the world can afford more war.”