“UN Chief Denounces ‘Clear Violations of International Humanitarian Law’ in Gaza”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has raised a passionate plea for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza while condemning the violations of international humanitarian law in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian armed group, Hamas.
The recent surge of violence began on October 7th, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, leading to relentless Israeli bombardments of the besieged Gaza Strip. The toll on civilian lives has been devastating, with at least 1,400 people reported dead by Israeli authorities. In response to the attack, Israel imposed severe restrictions on essential supplies, including water, food, fuel, and electricity, affecting the 2.3 million residents of Gaza. These measures have been condemned by the United Nations as a form of collective punishment. Additionally, Israel launched a ground assault on Gaza, resulting in the loss of over 5,791 lives, according to authorities in the Hamas-governed territory. More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes, with Israel instructing residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south. Despite these evacuations, Israeli airstrikes have continued across the entire region.
In a recent address before the 15-member UN Security Council, Guterres emphasized the urgent need to safeguard civilians caught in the crossfire and warned of the increasing risk of a broader regional conflict. He called attention to the broader context of the conflict, citing the Palestinian people’s decades-long experience of what he described as “suffocating occupation.” He acknowledged their grievances but also made it clear that this could not justify the “appalling attacks” by Hamas. In the same breath, he pointed out that such attacks could not justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Guterres’s statement was carefully balanced, as he criticized both parties involved without explicitly naming them. He criticized the displacement of over one million people, emphasizing that their relocation to the south had left them without shelter, food, water, medicine, and fuel. He also condemned the continuation of bombings in the south of Gaza, underscoring the imperative to protect civilians, regardless of the circumstances.