HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 26 MAY 2021

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OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY 
The Erez crossing remains open for international humanitarian staff, but still not open for Palestinian travelers, including humanitarian personnel and medical referrals.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is open and humanitarian goods are going in today.

And the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is also open.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  My second question, is the UN prepared to do any investigation of the UN properties damaged in this latest conflict in Gaza?

Spokesman:  We’ll, obviously, assess the damage, and if anything comes out of that, we will let you know.

Mr. Avni?

Question:  And my last question.

Spokesman:  Oh, sorry.

Question:  Sorry.  Mr. [Yahya] Sinwar, the chief of Hamas in Gaza, he’s threatened today that, unless the chronic problems of Gaza are addressed and solved, they are willing to go back to fighting.  Would that resonate with UN?  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I think… what we do not want to see is a return to fighting.  We do not want to see anything that will increase the suffering of civilian population, whether they be in Gaza or whether they be in Israel.  [cross talk] I mean, the civilians are always the first ones to pay.  And that’s why the Secretary-General, I think, was very clear for… calling for a resumption of a political process.

Question:  But keeping the largest human prison on Earth for 13 years under siege, is that acceptable?  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  We want to see a political solution that will bring benefits of peace and prosperity to civilians.

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Questions, two questions, actually, one about… you were asked yesterday about an interview that Mr. [Matthias] Schmale gave to an Israeli TV.  Today, he retracted some of his statements.  Can you… is there anything that the Secretary-General or you can say about the discrepancy between what he said yesterday about precision of Israeli targeting and also about the fact that there were no lack of basic needs in Gaza during the 11 war… 11-day war and his retraction today?  So, where are we in real life?

Spokesman:  Where are we in real life?  In real life, especially with the announcement of the appeal tomorrow, is we will do whatever we can to help civilians in Gaza, to bring as much aid in.

I’m not going to provide colour commentary on the interview.  I mean, I think, if you want further comments, go to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).  What I did yesterday, which I would continue to do, is defend our… my colleague, who is a dedicated humanitarian.  But in terms of what was said in the interview, what was not said, what was retracted, I would encourage you to go to UNRWA.

Question:  And I have a follow-up.  I noticed that during the last week… the entire last week, pretty much every day, you urged opening of the crossings, and you talked about it today.  There were, in the 19th and the 20th, which is last week, openings… very short-time openings, and there was shooting at the crossings from Gaza.  Do you have any comment on that?  Is that something that… because it wasn’t mentioned in your briefings.  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  Benny, it was.  I mentioned the short opening.  I mentioned the fact that it had to close down to security reasons.  Our colleagues on the ground, after the briefing, made it clear that one of the reasons it had to re-close was because there were rockets coming in… or there was fire… I don’t know exactly what type of artillery, but there was shooting of some kind from the Gaza side, which forced the closure of the crossings.  But I did mention it, and my colleagues in the region made a very… tweeted about it, so there was nothing… nothing was not said.

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For information media. Not an official record.