UN Secretary-General Calls for End to Violence in Israel-Gaza Conflict
The conflict between Hamas and Israel has entered its third day, with no signs of abating. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned the attacks by Hamas on Israeli towns and villages, while also recognizing the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people. Guterres called for an immediate halt to the violence and the release of all hostages.
The secretary-general acknowledged that the violence is not occurring in a vacuum but is rooted in a long-standing conflict with a 56-year-long occupation and no political end in sight. He expressed his distress at the decision of Israeli authorities to impose a total siege on Gaza, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation. The 2.3 million people living in Gaza will now face a lack of electricity, food, water, and gas.
In response to the attacks, Israeli authorities have launched a barrage of airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 500 Palestinians, including women and children, and injuring more than 3,000. Guterres expressed deep concern about these figures and reminded Israel of the importance of conducting military operations in accordance with international humanitarian law. He emphasized the need to respect and protect civilians and ensure that civilian sites and infrastructure are not targeted.
Reports have emerged of Israeli missiles striking health facilities, residential towers, and a mosque in Gaza. UNRWA schools, which provide shelter for displaced families, have also been hit. Currently, 137,000 people are seeking refuge in UNRWA facilities, with the number increasing as the violence continues.
Guterres highlighted the urgent need for medical equipment, food, fuel, and other humanitarian supplies in Gaza. He called for safe access for aid workers and urged the international community to mobilize immediate humanitarian support for the impoverished territory. The UN will continue its efforts to provide assistance to those in need.
In addition to addressing the immediate crisis, Guterres emphasized the importance of looking toward the long-term horizon and avoiding actions that could embolden extremists and jeopardize lasting peace. He stressed the need for Israel to see its legitimate security needs met and for Palestinians to have a clear perspective on the establishment of their own state. Guterres reiterated the long-held vision of a two-state solution in line with United Nations resolutions, international law, and previous agreements.
The secretary-general and the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, are engaging with leaders in the region to express their concern and advance efforts to prevent any spillover of violence to the wider Middle East.
As the conflict continues to escalate, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the protection of civilians and adhere to international humanitarian law. The immediate humanitarian needs of those affected must be addressed, and efforts to find a lasting solution that fulfills the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis must be intensified. Only through a negotiated peace can long-term stability be achieved in the region.
The international community must come together to support humanitarian efforts in Gaza and work towards a resolution that upholds the principles of justice, security, and self-determination for all parties involved. It is time to end this cycle of bloodshed, hatred, and polarization and pave the way for a peaceful and prosperous future in the Middle East.