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News > Palestine

UN Chief Says Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza Urgently Needed

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the situation in Gaza. Nov. 6, 2023.

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the situation in Gaza. Nov. 6, 2023. | Photo: X/@UN_News_Centre

Published 6 November 2023

To date, a total of 10,022 Palestinians have been killed, including 4,104 children and 2,641 women.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday that the unfolding catastrophe in Gaza makes a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with each passing hour.

Death Toll From Israeli Bombings in Gaza Exceeds 10,000

As Israel carries out ethnic cleansing in Gaza with the support of the U.S. government, Guterres told the press that the situation in the besieged enclave goes beyond a humanitarian crisis, but is a crisis of humanity. 

The escalating conflict is shaking the world, shaking the region and, most tragically, destroying so many innocent lives, he said.

The UN Secretary-General again treated aggressor and victim as equals, stating that violations of humanitarian law came from both Israel and Hamas. 

Israeli army ground operations and continued shelling are hitting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities, including shelters. No one is safe, Guterres said, noting that, at the same time, Hamas and other militants are using civilians as human shields and continue to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel.

In this regard, he said that "the parties to the conflict - and, indeed, the international community - face an immediate and fundamental responsibility: to stop the inhuman collective suffering and dramatically expand humanitarian aid to Gaza."
He said an urgent humanitarian ceasefire is the only way forward at a time when Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children, with hundreds of children killed or injured every day. More journalists have been killed in a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades, and more UN humanitarian workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of the world organization, Guterres said. 

To date, a total of 10,022 Palestinians have been killed, including 4,104 children and 2,641 women, with at least 47 journalists and 175 health professionals reported killed. 

Some life-saving aid is getting into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing. But the trickle of assistance does not meet the ocean of need, he said.

The Rafah crossing alone does not have the capacity to process aid trucks at the scale required. Just over 400 trucks have crossed into Gaza over the past two weeks, compared with 500 a day before the conflict. 

Israeli forces have banned bringing in fuel through the crossing. Without fuel, newborns in incubators and patients on life support will die. Water cannot be pumped or purified. Sewage could soon start pouring into the streets, further spreading disease. Truckloads of critical aid will be stranded, he warned.

Israel has also attacked UN humanitarian workers in charge of distributing humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been under a total blockade by Tel Aviv for more a month, cutting off fuel, electricity, water and food supplies. 

The UN and its partners are launching a $1.2 billion humanitarian appeal to help 2.7 million people in Gaza and half a million Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Guterres said. 

"The way forward is clear: a humanitarian cease-fire - now; all parties respecting all their obligations under international humanitarian law - now; the unconditional release of the hostages in Gaza - now; the protection of civilians, hospitals, UN facilities, shelters and schools - now; more food, more water, more medicine and of course fuel entering Gaza safely, swiftly and at the scale needed - now; unfettered access to deliver supplies to all people in need in Gaza - now; and the end of the use of civilians as human shields - now," said the UN chief stressing that none of these appeals should be conditional on the others.

The occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is at a boiling point, Guterres said, noting the need to address the risks of the conflict spreading across the region. "We are already witnessing a spiral of escalation from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. This escalation must stop. Cooler heads and diplomatic efforts must prevail. Hateful rhetoric and provocative actions must stop," he said.

"I am deeply concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Jewish and Muslim communities in many parts of the world are on high alert, fearing for their personal safety. Emotions are running high. The tension is enormous," he added.

Guterres did not address the origin of the conflict that began not on October 7 but in 1948 with the violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers.

However, he called on UN member states to act now to find a way out of this brutal, terrible and agonizing impasse of destruction, to help end the pain and suffering, to help heal those who are broken and to help pave the way to peace, to a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living in peace and security.

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