JERUSALEM (AA) - The blockaded Gaza Strip is "far beyond humanitarian crises", Nickolay Mladenov, UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, has warned.
Speaking Tuesday at a forum organized by Israel's Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Mladenov warned that Gaza was currently hovering on the verge "of a total systems failure".
He defined this looming failure as "a total collapse of the [Gazan] economy and social services and all the political and humanitarian implications stemming from this".
Mladenov also called on attendees of an upcoming meeting between donor countries and the Palestinian Authority (PA) -- to be held in Brussels on Thursday -- to address the PA's current funding crisis, the Gaza situation and the stalled Middle East peace process.
"Returning Gaza to legitimate Palestinian control [i.e., the PA rather than Hamas] and ending all the militant activity there is critical," the UN envoy said.
He added: "This is critical to Israel's security, Egypt's security, the people of Gaza, and the Palestinians in general".
"We must work with the PA and help them develop a plan as to how they are going to return to Gaza," Mladenov said.
Otherwise, the envoy warned, Gaza risks "blowing up in our faces again -- this time in a far more violent and deadly manner than in the past".
Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has groaned beneath a crippling Israeli/Egyptian embargo first imposed in 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from forces loyal to the PA.