United Nations | Agencies: With tensions escalating in the middle-east over the Israel-Palestine conflict, India on Sunday urged the two sides to show extreme restraint and condemned all acts of violence, including "indiscriminate rocket firings" from Gaza.

However, India said that it supports the "Palestinian cause" and its unwavering commitment to the two-State solution, while also stressing India's strong condemnation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement and destruction.

The UN Security Council held an open meeting on the situation in the Middle East on Sunday, during which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres termed the tensions as the "most serious escalation" in Gaza and Israel in years.

"Immediate de-escalation is the need of the hour, so as to arrest any further slide towards the brink. We urge both sides to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that exacerbate tensions, and refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status-quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said.

India voiced support for the diplomatic efforts of the Quartet and other members of the international community, the countries in the region in particular, to "calm" the situation and put an end to the ongoing violence and seek to achieve durable peace.

"These incidents have once again underscored the need for immediate resumption of dialogue between Israel and Palestinian authorities. The absence of direct and meaningful negotiations between the parties is widening the trust deficit between the parties," Tirumurti said, voicing concern that "this will only increase the chances for similar escalation in future."

India believes that every effort should be made to create conducive conditions for resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine, he said.

During the two previously held Security Council closed meetings last week on the escalating tensions, India had expressed its deep concern over violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramzan, and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN.

"We had also expressed our apprehension at the spread of violence to other parts of West Bank and Gaza," he said.

Tirumurti said India condemns the indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel. He added that the retaliatory strikes into Gaza have caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths, including of women and children.

"India has also lost one of her nationals living in Israel in this rocket fire - a caregiver in Ashkelon. We deeply mourn her demise along with all other civilians who have lost their lives in the current cycle of violence," he said.

Soumya Santosh, 30, was killed in a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza, according to officials. Santosh, who hailed from Kerala's Idukki district, worked as a caregiver attending to an old woman at a house in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.

Tirumurti told the Council meeting, held under the Presidency of China this month, that Jerusalem has a special place in hearts of millions of Indians, who visit the city every year. It also houses the Al Zawiyya Al Hindiyya -The Indian Hospice, which is a historic place associated with a great Indian Sufi saint Baba Farid and located inside the Old City.

"India has restored this Indian Hospice. The historic status-quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, must be respected," he said.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma