United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has renewed his demand for a ceasefire in Gaza and said that international law was being violated in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Israel has bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip relentlessly since October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killling at least 1,400 people according to Israeli authorities.
After the attack, Israel cut off supplies of water, food, fuel and electricity to the enclave’s 2.3 million residents, an act the UN has called a form of collective punishment. It also launched an assault on the territory, killing at least 5,791 people, according to authorities in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.
More than one million people have been displaced, as Israel ordered residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south, but Israeli air raids have continued throughout the territory.
Speaking before the 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday, Guterres pleaded for civilians to be protected and warned that the fighting risked a wider conflagration in the region.
“It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said.
“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said.
Guterres also criticised Israel without naming it, saying “protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than one million people to evacuate to the south, where there is no shelter, no food, no water, no medicine and no fuel, and then continuing to bomb the south itself.”