The fighting in the Middle East must stop immediately, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, as he urged Israel and the Palestinians to call for a immediate ceasefire and promised to launch a fully humane appeal for funding.
“The past ten days have witnessed a dangerous and horrific surge in deadly violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly Gaza, and in Israel,” Guterres said at a meeting called by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group.
“I am amazed at the continued air and artillery bombardment of Israeli defense forces in Gaza,” the UN chief added.
“Horrified” by reports that nine members of a family had been killed in the al-Shati refugee camp, Guterres also emphasized: “If there is hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza.”
He also said he was also concerned about the destruction of media offices and the killing of a journalist in Gaza, which gave reasons why journalists have the right to do their job.
According to the UN, the bomb killed 208 Palestinians, including 60 children, and injured thousands more. The firing of Hamas rockets into Israel resulted in 12 deaths including two children, and hundreds injured.
The clashes caused severe damage to Gaza’s critical infrastructure, including roads and power lines, Guterres said. The crossing was closed and the lack of electricity affected water supplies. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. The air strikes have also damaged many hospitals, where the coronavirus disease is overloaded.
More than 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza have fled their homes and sought shelter in schools run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has limited access to water and food, according to Guterres.
Aid agencies need to be able to fulfill their mission, he said, citing the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, and the Humanitary Coordinator plans to send $ 14m for occupied Palestinian territories.
“Access to humanitarian items is essential. Attacks by militant groups in areas surrounding crossing points are unacceptable,” the UN chief added.
He called on Israel to allow unimpeded access for humanitary aid – including food, fuel and medical supplies – to Gaza and expressed his concern over the rockets fired from Gaza that have reached as far in Tel Aviv and its suburbs and Ben Gurion Airport. The rockets claimed civilian lives, causing hundreds of injuries.
“Even wars have rules,” the secretary-general stressed, also emphasizing: “Civilians must be protected. Non-verbal attacks, and attacks against civilians and civilian property, are violations. of the laws of war. “
“There is no justification, including counter-terrorism or self-defense, for the abduction of parties in conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Guterres added.
He urged the Israeli authorities to abide by the laws governing armed conflict, including the proportional use of force and called on them to enforce maximum restraint in the conduct of military operations.
He also urged Hamas and other armed groups to stop the impartial launch of rockets and mortars from numerous civilian neighborhoods into Israel’s civilian population centers, which clearly violates international humanitarian law. Civilian populated areas should not be used for military purposes, Guterres pointed out.
He also expressed deep concern over the continuing violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and urged Israel to stop demolitions and evict the occupied Palestinian territory.
Guterres said he was working with Egypt, Jordan and Qatar to urge all sides to stop the violence and was also working with all parties to the conflict, including Hamas, to ensure an end to the fighting.
The United Nations supported the two -state solution based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine.