UN chief urges Israel, Hamas to step back from conflict

UN chief urges Israel, Hamas to step back from conflict

Antonio Guterres calls on both sides to ‘step back from the brink of another devastating conflict’

By Betul Yuruk

NEW YORK (AA) - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday voiced concern over "escalating violence" between Israel and Palestinian movement Hamas.

“I am gravely concerned over the dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel,” Guterres said in a statement.

He said: “I deeply regret the loss of life. It is imperative that all sides urgently step back from the brink of another devastating conflict.”

"Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods and support the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza," Guterres added.

Earlier on Saturday, Hamas announced a cease-fire deal between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel to ease tension in the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli army also announced that Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza border could return to normal civilian routine as calm was restored along Gaza border.

The cease-fire deal came after four Palestinians were martyred and an Israeli soldier was killed in an escalation on Friday.

Since March, more than 140 Palestinians have been martyred – and thousands more injured – in Palestinian protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation and an 11-year blockade, which has gutted the Gaza economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

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