United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, warning that the Strip was turning into a “cemetery for children.”
In a statement to journalists at the United Nations headquarters on Monday, Guterres stressed that the unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour.
The Secretary-General added that the Rafah crossing alone does not have the capacity to handle aid trucks of the required size, and “we need more food, water, medicine and, of course, fuel to enter Gaza,” stressing the need for the protection of civilians to be of utmost importance.
Guterres added, “I join the United Nations family in mourning the 89 of our colleagues in UNRWA who were killed in Gaza.”
On the other hand, the Ministry of Health in Gaza counted 10,022 martyrs since the beginning of the Israeli aggression, and confirmed that 70% of the victims were women and children, noting that the occupation had committed 24 major massacres during the past hours, claiming the lives of 243 martyrs.
According to the ministry, the toll includes more than 4,000 children, and the majority of those killed since the beginning of the war are civilians.
Guterres said, “We must not forget the importance of addressing the risks of the conflict spreading to the region. We are already witnessing a spiral of escalation from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen, and this escalation must stop.”
Mass inhuman suffering
The Secretary-General continued, “The parties to the conflict, and indeed the international community, face an immediate and fundamental responsibility, which is to put an end to this inhumane mass suffering and to significantly expand the scope of aid to Gaza.”
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than just a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis for humanity,” Guterres added.
The UN Secretary-General condemned the killing of two media workers. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 36 journalists and media workers were killed.
Guterres said, “Reports indicate that the toll of journalists killed in four weeks exceeds that recorded in any conflict for at least three decades.”
These statements came as Guterres launched a UN humanitarian appeal to raise $1.2 billion to help 2.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and parts of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Trucks loaded with aid cross into Gaza from Egypt via Rafah, but the volume of aid is still below the level before October 7, and Israel says that inspecting the trucks takes time, and that no fuel is brought in.
“Without fuel, newborns and patients on life support will die,” Guterres said.
He continued, “The way forward is clear. A ceasefire for humanitarian purposes now. And all parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law now.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations condemned the “flagrant violations of international humanitarian law we are witnessing.”
“To be clear, no party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” he said.
Guterres did not refer to Israel by name, knowing that he had previously raised its ire on October 24 during a UN Security Council session in which he addressed violations of international humanitarian law, stressing that “Hamas’ attacks did not come out of nowhere,” which prompted Israeli officials to accuse him of justifying the violence. Which was denied by the Secretary-General.