United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has raised significant concerns regarding the situation in Gaza, where he has identified “clear violations” of humanitarian law. These remarks come amidst an ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has entered its 18th day. Guterres’ statements were made during a session of the United Nations Security Council, where divisions on the matter persist.
Guterres emphasized the urgent need for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” He stressed that the escalating tensions and fractures within societies in the region pose a risk of the conflict spreading further. His primary concern is the well-being of the civilian population in Gaza, who are in dire need of essential supplies such as food, water, medicine, and fuel.
In his address, Guterres underscored the importance of obeying the rules of war. While acknowledging the grievances of the Palestinian people, he condemned what he described as “the horrifying and unprecedented October 7 acts of terror” by Hamas in Israel and called for the immediate release of all hostages.
At the same time, Guterres emphasized that these acts of terror should not be used as a justification for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Guterres expressed deep apprehension regarding the “clear violations of international humanitarian law.” He specifically cited Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza, the extensive destruction, and the alarming number of civilian casualties. He stressed that protecting civilians should be paramount in any armed conflict.
Although Guterres did not explicitly name Hamas, the UN Secretary-General emphasized that protecting civilians must not involve using them as human shields. He also criticized actions taken by Israel without explicitly naming the country, particularly the displacement of over one million people to the south, where they lack shelter, food, water, medicine, and fuel while continuing to conduct military operations in that area.
In summary, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the clear violations of international humanitarian law. He urged all parties to prioritize the protection of civilians and take steps to prevent further loss of life and escalation of the conflict.