Friday, October 27, 2023

UN Chief Urges Respect for Rules of War, Stops Short of Urging Israel to Halt Gaza Attack


UN Secretary-General Calls for Humanitarian Access in Gaza

In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for immediate humanitarian access to the region. He expressed concern over the safety of over 1 million Palestinians who are being forced to relocate within an overcrowded war zone. Guterres emphasized that moving such a large number of people to an area that lacks basic necessities like food, water, and shelter would be extremely dangerous and simply not possible. While he did not explicitly call on Israel to halt its assault on Gaza, Guterres stressed the importance of respecting the rules of war.

Humanitarian agencies have also condemned Israel’s ultimatum, which demands the relocation of more than 1.2 million Palestinians from northern Gaza to the south within 24 hours. This move has been denounced as collective punishment and a violation of international law. UN experts, including Paula Gaviria Betancur, a special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, have labeled forcible population transfers as a crime against humanity. They have also highlighted that collective punishment is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Guterres has urged all parties involved in the conflict to grant immediate humanitarian access to Gaza. He emphasized the need for food, water, and fuel to reach those who are most in need. The UN Secretary-General reiterated that even in times of war, there are rules that must be followed. He called for the protection of civilians and emphasized that they should never be used as shields.

In addition to humanitarian access, Guterres called for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas. He stressed the importance of all parties involved, as well as those with influence over them, taking necessary steps to achieve these goals.

The situation in Gaza was discussed at a closed meeting of the UN Security Council, which was called by Brazil and the UAE. The meeting aimed to address the situation in Gaza and explore the possibility of establishing a humanitarian corridor. The World Health Organization has also called for the creation of such a corridor, as hospitals in Gaza are unable to function without fuel and electricity.

The power plant in Gaza has run out of fuel, leading to a severe shortage of drinking water that is affecting over 650,000 people, according to the UN office of humanitarian affairs. The need for immediate action to address these critical issues was emphasized during the Security Council meeting.

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Barbara Woodward, expressed her condolences to all those affected by the conflict and unequivocally condemned Hamas for its acts of terrorism. She emphasized that Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people and called on fellow council members to work towards securing the release of hostages.

When asked about calling on Israel to halt its attack on Gaza, Woodward stated that her country is clear that actions must be in line with international humanitarian law. She mentioned that during discussions between the UK Prime Minister and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the importance of protecting civilians was emphasized.

In conclusion, the UN Secretary-General’s call for immediate humanitarian access in Gaza highlights the urgent need to address the dire situation in the region. The relocation of over 1 million Palestinians within an overcrowded war zone is deemed extremely dangerous and not feasible. The international community, including humanitarian agencies, has condemned Israel’s ultimatum as collective punishment and a violation of international law. The establishment of a humanitarian corridor is crucial to ensure the delivery of essential supplies like food, water, and fuel. The release of hostages held by Hamas is also a pressing concern. It is imperative that all parties involved in the conflict respect international humanitarian and human rights law and take necessary steps to protect civilians.

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