21 AUGUST 2020

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  In fact, Edith read my mind and then asked the same question I was preparing to ask you, but since I have the floor now, I will ask you about the rising tension in Gaza.  For the last couple of days, there have been bombing by Israel the… of Gaza Strip.  The Palestinian resistance will respond with fire kites.  Is Mr. Mladenov involved in trying to calm things down and talk to the parties?  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Yes.  I mean, we’re very much, not only aware, but I think we’re concerned by the increased violence that we’re seeing in Gaza and in southern Israel.  The launching of indiscriminate rockets, mortars, incendiary devices by Palestinian militants into Israel must immediately cease.  We also urge Israel to exercise restraint in responding to these incidents.  Israel’s ban on fuel entering Gaza via Kerem Shalom, including donor‑funded fuel for humanitarian purposes, needs to be immediately reversed.  As you know, there’s only one power plant in Gaza, and it’s shutting down its turbines.  So, we’ve seen reports of less than four hours of electricity available to many parts of Gaza, and that is of particular concern to us about the impact that this reduced electricity supply will have on health facilities, on schools, and also on conditions at some of the quarantine centres at the Rafah crossings.  These UN‑supported centres are a critical element to the efforts to prevent an outbreak of COVID‑19 in the strip.  The Special Coordinator, Mr. Mladenov, is working with all sides right now to try to ease tensions and, more, most importantly, to prevent further escalation that may endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike and would only deepen the already critical humanitarian situation in Gaza.  I skipped a couple of people on my list.  Margaret and then Evelyn.

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Correspondent:  Thanks, Stéphane.  So, I had a question on Iran, but, a technical one, but before that, something struck me in your statement regarding Gaza, Palestine and Israel.  So, you said you, you said that Palestinians should practise… the actions from Gaza should immediately cease.  And then, in the same sentence almost, you said that Israelis should practise maximum pressure regarding their attacks in Gaza.  So…

Spokesman:  Maximum restraint.

Question:  Maximum restraint, sorry.  So, don’t you think that their action also should immediately cease?

Spokesman:  We would like to see the cycle of violence, this current cycle of violence, end, and we call on the parties to do whatever they can to reach that goal.

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For information media. Not an official record.