United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has stated at the UN General Assembly that;“if there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza”.
Guterres called for an “immediate end” to the fighting and said he was;“deeply shocked;by the continued air and artillery bombardment” by Israeli forces on Gaza.
He also condemned the “indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas” and other groups towards Israel as “unacceptable.”
According to reports, Israeli fighter jets have continued to bombard the Gaza Strip, killing at least one Palestinian;and wounding several others, despite calls to de-escalate. As a result of the ongoing violence, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group called;for an emergency UN General Assembly.
Addressing the meeting, Guterres intimated that he is;“deeply shocked by;the continued air and artillery bombardment by the Israeli defence forces in Gaza.
“The past ten days have witnessed a dangerous and horrific surge in deadly;violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly Gaza, and in Israel.”
The UN Chief also revealed that he was;“horrified” by reports that nine members of one family were;killed in al-Shati refugee camp, emphasizing that children are facing a hell on earth in Gaza.
Guterres added that he was extremely concerned about the destruction of media offices and the killing of a journalist in Gaza, stressing that journalists have a right to conduct their work.
According to the UN, the bombing has claimed the lives of 208 Palestinians, including 60 children, and injured thousands more. The firing of rockets by Hamas towards Israel has resulted in 12 fatalities including two children, and hundreds of injuries.
Over 50,000 Palestinians displaced by conflict
Guterres also told the UN General Assembly that conflict has resulted in serious damage to critical infrastructure in Gaza, including roads and electricity lines. He reported that crossings have been closed and power shortages are affecting water supplies.
According to him, hundreds of homes have been;destroyed and the air strikes have also damaged several hospitals, which were;already overburdened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza have also fled their homes and many are seeking shelter at schools run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), where access to water and food is limited, Guterres said.
Aid agencies must be able to carry out their mission, he continued, noting that the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and Humanitarian Coordinator plans to send $14m to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Guterres, therefore, called on Israel to allow unrestricted access for humanitarian aid, including food, fuel and medical supplies into Gaza
“Access for humanitarian goods is paramount. Attacks by militant groups on areas surrounding crossing points are unacceptable.”
He stressed that “even wars have rules,” and emphasized that “Civilians must be protected.”
“Indiscriminate attacks, and attacks against civilians and civilian property, are violations of the laws of war.”
“There is no justification, including counterterrorism or self-defence, for the abdication by the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
He then urged Israeli authorities to abide by the laws governing armed conflict, including the proportionate use of force and called on them to exercise maximum restraint in their military operations.