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Guterres ‘heartbroken’ by images of deadly strikes on Rafah camp

Mr. Guterres repeated his longstanding call for a ceasefire in the embattled enclave and the release of all hostages.

“He is heartbroken by the images of the killed and injured, including many small children. As he has said before, the horror and suffering must stop immediately,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The Secretary-General had taken to social media the previous day to condemn “Israel’s actions” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

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Famine fears 

The statement said the UN chief  also grieved for the more than 36,000 Palestinians and some 1,500 Israelis killed in the relentless violence, the statement continued.

This includes the “gruesome acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Israel on 7 October 2023, the devastating Israeli assault on Gaza, the continued indiscriminate rocket launches towards Israel.”

He noted that “the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is now compounded by the unconscionable prospect of a man-made famine.” 

The UN chief reiterated his demand for an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and conditional release of all hostages. 

“He recalls the recent orders of the International Court of Justice, which are binding and must be complied with,” the statement said.

On Friday, the UN’s top court issued new provisional measures that order Israel to immediately halt military operations in Rafah, located in southern Gaza, which have forced roughly a million people to flee elsewhere. 

Facilitate aid flows 

The Secretary-General said that the Israeli authorities must allow, facilitate and enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian and that all crossing points must be open in line with UN Security Council resolution 2720 (2023).

Adopted last December, it established the post of a UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator who will facilitate, coordinate, monitor and verify aid consignments to the enclave.

Furthermore, humanitarian organizations must have full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to reach all civilians in need across Gaza, in line with Council resolution 2712 (2023), he said.

The resolution calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate the provision of essential goods and services. 

‘Security, dignity and hope’ 

“We must work expeditiously to restore security, dignity and hope for the affected population,” the statement continued.

“This will require urgent efforts to support and strengthen the new Palestinian Government and its institutions, including preparing the Palestinian Authority to reassume its responsibilities in Gaza. We must also move forward with tangible and irreversible steps to create a political horizon.” 

The statement concluded by upholding UN support for a two-State solution between Palestinians and Israelis. 

Death everywhere

Juliette Touma, Director of Communications for the UN Palestine refugee agency, UNRWA, reported that according to some medical sources, at least 200 people were killed in the airstrikes.

“The attack added to the general fear of death. People are seeing so much death around them,” she said, speaking from Amman to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York.

“A colleague who recently returned from Gaza told me today people are dying inside, everywhere they look there is death, and it is as if people have accepted that death is their fate.”

Israeli bill ‘outrageous’

Ms. Touma was also asked about a bill before the Israeli Knesset to declare UNRWA a terrorist organization. She said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini has described it as “outrageous…because this is the last straw in a series of accusations, allegations,” against the agency.

She described UNRWA as “the beating heart and the backbone of the humanitarian operation in Gaza,” and recalled its more than seven decades in supporting Palestine refugees across the Middle East region.

 

 

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