Against the backdrop of the war between Israel and terrorist group Hamas, UN Secretary Antonio Guterres chimed in on the conflict, which has become even more turbulent over the past 48 hours. The UN official highlighted the carnage and condemned both sides for the violence.
However, the bulk of Guterres’ criticism was directed at Israel, which is currently retaliating against a massive surprise attack launched by Hamas on Saturday that claimed over 900 lives, nine of whom were American citizens.
“I recognize the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people, but nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming, and abduction of civilians,” Guterres said. “I reiterate my call to immediately cease these attacks and release all hostages.”
The secretary-general then turned his attention to Israel, chiding the nation for its counterattack against Hamas.
In the face of these unprecedented attacks, Israeli airstrikes have pounded Gaza. I’m deeply alarmed by reports of over 500 Palestinians, including women and children, killed in Gaza, and over 3,000 injured. Unfortunately, these numbers are rising by the minute as Israeli operations continue. While I recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I also remind Israel that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law. Civilians must be respected and protected at all times. Civilian infrastructure must never be a target.
On Monday, Israel announced that it has laid siege to the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas. The action was taken to allow Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to kill or capture Hamas operatives.
Israel’s military ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip on Monday, halting deliveries of food, fuel and supplies to its 2.3 million people as it pounded the Hamas-ruled territory with waves of airstrikes in retaliation for the militants’ bloody weekend incursion.
More than two days after Hamas launched its surprise attack, the Israeli military said it had largely gained control in its southern towns where it had been battling Hamas gunmen. Israel’s vaunted military and intelligence apparatus was caught completely off guard by Hamas, resulting in heavy battles in its streets for the first time in decades.
Guterres condemned the move, pointing out that it could lead to an even worse humanitarian crisis in the region.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities. Now, it will only deteriorate exponentially. Medical equipment, food, fuel, and other humanitarian supplies are desperately needed, along with access for humanitarian personnel. Relief and entry of essential supplies into Gaza must be facilitated, and the UN will continue efforts to provide aid to respond to these needs.
The secretary-general argued that it is “time to end this vicious circle of bloodshed, hatred, and polarization” and advocated for the two-state solution the UN has been promoting for years.
“Israel must see its legitimate needs for security materialized, and Palestinians must see a clear perspective for the establishment of their own state realized,” he said. “Only a negotiated peace that fulfills the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis, together with their security alike, the long-held vision of a two-state solution in line with United Nations resolutions, international law, and previous agreements can bring long-term stability to the people of this land and the wider Middle East region.”
"Nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians."— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 9, 2023
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, delivers a statement on the Israel-Hamas war.
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Guterres’ remarks come as Hamas is becoming even more aggressive in its effort against Israel. The organization recently threatened to begin executing its hostages in response to Israeli retaliatory strikes.