UN chief calls for immediate halt to hostilities in Israel, Gaza

<p>UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres<em> (Anadolu photo)</em></p>

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Anadolu photo)

WASHINGTON – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Thursday for an immediate halt to hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel,” Guterres said on Twitter.

The UN chief warned that the conflict will spark extremism in the Middle East.

“Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region,” Guterres said.

Israel continues to target Gaza with heavy bombardment, killing 83 Palestinians so far, including 17 children and seven women, according to health officials. At least 487 others have been injured in addition to heavy damage to residential buildings across the enclave.

To date, seven Israelis have been killed in the recent violence -- six of them in rocket attacks, in addition to a soldier killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.

Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem over the past month as Israeli settlers swarmed in following a court order for the eviction of Palestinian families in the area.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 -- a move that has never been recognized by the international community. (Anadolu)