UN chief pleads for Gazans’ safety, cites humanitarian law violations newsbhunt


UNITED NATION: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded on Tuesday for civilians to be protected in the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants, voicing concern about “clear violations of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip.
More than 700 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli air strikes, Gaza’s health ministry said, the highest 24-hour death toll since Israel began a bombing campaign to crush Hamas militants who stunned the country with a deadly Oct. 7 attack.
Guterres told the 15-member UN Security Council that at a “crucial moment like this,” it was vital to be clear that war has rules, starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians.
“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said.
“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan described Guterres’ speech as “shocking.”
“His statement that ‘the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum’ expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder,” Erdan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It’s truly sad that the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust holds such horrible views.”
Israel has imposed a “total siege” on Gaza and international diplomacy has focused on getting aid to the enclave of 2.3 million people from Egypt via Rafah – the main crossing in and out of Gaza that does not border Israel.
Since Saturday, 54 trucks have crossed into Gaza carrying food, medicine and water, which Guterres described as “a drop of aid in an ocean of need.”
Senior UN aid official Lynn Hastings told the council another 20 trucks were due to cross on Tuesday. But fuel has yet to be allowed in and the UN has warned that its reserves will run out within days.
Israel is concerned about the possible diversion of fuel deliveries by Hamas.
“While we negotiate with the government of Israel as to how best to bring fuel into Gaza, we have 400,000 litres on trucks ready to go. This would provide fuel for approximately 2-1/2 more days,” Hastings said.
As Israel prepares for a ground offensive in Gaza, it warned on Oct. 13 that 1.1 million Palestinians should relocate to the south of the narrow strip.
“There is nowhere to seek refuge in Gaza. When it comes to decisions on whether and where to flee, civilians are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” said Hastings, addressing the council on behalf of UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.
Guterres said at least 35 UN staff had been killed during the bombardment of Gaza.


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