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UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Hamas to promptly release all hostages without any preconditions. He also called on Israel to permit swift and unhindered access to humanitarian aid for the civilians residing in the Gaza Strip.
It was noted that the Gaza Strip, governed by Hamas and housing approximately 2.3 million inhabitants, is currently subjected to a comprehensive blockade. As a consequence of the ongoing conflicts with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israel has ceased the provision of essential resources such as food, water, and fuel to the region.
On Monday, Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, announced the intention to enforce a “complete siege” on the territory.
UN Chief on Hamas
In a statement on Sunday, it was conveyed by Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, that in light of the critical situation in the Middle East, he felt compelled to issue two urgent humanitarian appeals.
It was stressed by the UN Secretary-General that Hamas should promptly release all hostages without any preconditions. Guterres also emphasized that Israel should allow swift and unhindered access for humanitarian aid, which is crucial for the well-being of the civilians in Gaza.
He underlined that both of these objectives hold intrinsic value and should not be subject to negotiation; they must be carried out because it is the morally correct course of action.
The UN chief issued a grave warning, expressing that Gaza is facing a severe shortage of water, electricity, and other essential provisions. It was pointed out that the United Nations possesses available reserves of food, water, non-food items, medical supplies, and fuel, situated in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, and these resources can be dispatched within a matter of hours.
Guterres emphasized the need for dedicated personnel on the ground, in collaboration with NGO partners, to be able to safely transport and deliver these supplies to those in need in Gaza, without encountering any hindrance.
WHO on Hamas
Since the recent outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas, initiated by the militant group’s attack on various locations inside Israel on October 7th and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war, the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations such as the WHO have been tirelessly working to position aid.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there has been a sustained and nearly constant barrage of Israeli bombardments on Gaza, encompassing air, sea, and land-based attacks.
On Sunday, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) called upon Hamas to release all civilian hostages, emphasizing that the conflict between Israel and the Islamist group would only result in devastation and terror.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed deep concern regarding Israeli assaults, noting the unfortunate toll on innocent Palestinian civilians and children. He remarked that this conflict serves as a distressing reminder of how swiftly the well-being of millions can be jeopardized.
The WHO’s leader stressed the importance of Hamas releasing civilian hostages and urged Israel to adhere to its international legal obligations in safeguarding civilians and healthcare facilities.
Mr. Ghebreyesus condemned the Hamas attacks, deeming them both unwarranted and horrifying, and characterized them as brutal actions deserving of condemnation. He further voiced serious apprehension about Israeli strikes on Palestinian civilians, highlighting the tragic consequences for innocent individuals and children.
Mr Ghebreyesus outlined the WHO’s call for the reinstatement of electricity and water services in the Gaza Strip, as well as the creation of conditions that enable the immediate and secure distribution of essential supplies such as food, medical resources, and other humanitarian aid.
UN Chief to Visit Middle East
UN chief Martin Griffiths announced his upcoming trip to the Middle East on Tuesday, with the aim of facilitating negotiations for aid access to the Gaza Strip.
In a video message, Griffiths expressed his hope for positive developments in aid access through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, expecting updates on Monday. He emphasized the pressing need for aid entry and mentioned ongoing discussions with Israeli and Egyptian authorities, with notable support from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his regional visit.
Griffiths conveyed his anticipation for favourable news regarding aid passage through Rafah, a crucial entry point for both the relocated population and those already residing in Gaza.
The Rafah border crossing, situated between Egypt and Gaza, is the sole gateway in and out of the coastal enclave not under Israeli control. It has been non-operational since Tuesday due to three Israeli strikes within a 24-hour span, causing damage to the Palestinian side of the terminal.
Griffiths also shared his intention to personally travel to the region to contribute to negotiations, bear witness, and express solidarity with the commendable efforts of numerous aid workers who remain steadfast in providing assistance to the people in Gaza and the West Bank.