‘Nothing Justifies Collective Punishment of Palestinians in Gaza’ – UN Chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo: U.S. Mission, Eric Bridiers, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Guterres said he was “deeply troubled” by the “clear violation of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing.”

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has said the onslaught on Gaza by Israel over more than 100 days “has unleashed wholesale destruction and levels of civilian killings at a rate that is unprecedented” during his tenure. 

Speaking to the press on Monday, Guterres said “Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

The humanitarian situation in Gaza, Guterres stressed, “is beyond words. Nowhere and no one is safe.”

158 Palestinians Killed in 24 Hours as Israel Carries out 15 Massacres in Gaza

The UN chief criticized the flow of humanitarian assistance into the besieged enclave, saying “Life-saving relief is not getting to people who have endured months of relentless assault at anywhere near the scale needed.”

“The long shadow of starvation is stalking the people of Gaza — along with disease, malnutrition and other health threats,” Guterres warned. 

He said he was “deeply troubled” by the “clear violation of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing.”

Security of Utmost Importance for Aid Delivery

Last week, Under-Secretary-General Sigrid Kaag began her work as Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza — in line with the Security Council resolution that demands “the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Guterres appealed to all States and parties to the conflict for their full cooperation as Kaag works with members of the Security Council and regional actors to deliver on the mandate set in the resolution.

158 Palestinians Killed in 24 Hours as Israel Carries out 15 Massacres in Gaza

He explained that an aid operation in Gaza requires certain basics, foremost being security. Therefore, “the United Nations and our partners cannot effectively deliver humanitarian aid while Gaza is under such heavy, widespread and unrelenting bombardment.”

“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. To ensure sufficient aid gets to where it is needed,” he said.

Only 7 of 29 Missions to North Gaza

Since October 7, 152 UN staff members have been killed in Gaza, “the largest single loss of life in the history of our organization — a heart-wrenching figure and a source of deep sorrow.”

Guterres also criticized the “significant hurdles” at the Gaza border, saying that vital materials, including life-saving medical equipment have been rejected with little or no explanation. 

He also said the aid operation faces major impediments to distribution within Gaza, including “repeated denials of access to the north”, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain.

Since the start of the year, just 7 of 29 missions to deliver aid to the north have been able to proceed, he stressed.

“Large stretches of agreed routes cannot be used due to heavy fighting and debris, with unexploded ordnance also threatening convoys.”

Relations with Israel are ‘Complex and Challenging’ – UN Spokesman

He called for the release of hostages to be facilitated, warning that “the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation.”

Concerned about “a broader escalation between Israel and Lebanon” which could affect “regional stability,” Guterres concluded that “We cannot see in Lebanon what we are seeing in Gaza. And we cannot allow what has been happening in Gaza to continue.”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 24,285 Palestinians have been killed, and 61,154 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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