Russia’s deputy foreign minister on Wednesday expressed deep concern over escalating tensions in Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip, telling Tel Aviv’s envoy in Moscow that an uptick in Palestinian civilian deaths would be unacceptable.
Mikhail Bogdanov told Alexander Ben Zvi in a meeting that any actions that raise the number of civilian casualties are unacceptable, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
At the same time, Bogdanov reaffirmed Russia’s willingness to organize direct talks between the two sides to de-escalate tensions, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is “closely monitoring” the situation in Israel and Palestine.
Moscow is making efforts to defuse the situation, Peskov told reporters in a phone conference.
“We call on the parties to the conflict – Israel, and Palestine – to exercise restraint,” he said, adding that all parties should be careful not to “add fuel to the fire” with their statements.
Recent tensions that started in East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan spread to Gaza as a result of Israeli assaults on worshippers at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
At least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children and 36 women, and 1,620 others injured in Israeli attacks across the blockaded territory since May 10, according to the Health Ministry.
Twelve people have also been killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
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.