The Secretary-General of the United Nations urges Israel to refrain from causing further harm to civilians in Gaza.
Mr. Guterres is extremely alarmed by the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas this past Friday, including rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza and Israel’s renewed ground operations and intensified airstrikes, increasingly in the south of the enclave.
The United Nations is urging the Israeli military to refrain from taking any actions that could worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to protect civilians from additional suffering, according to a statement from UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
Ensure the safety of non-combatants and maintain the continuous supply of assistance.
The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of safeguarding civilians, including healthcare professionals, journalists, and UN staff, as well as civilian structures, at all times.
He stressed the importance of uninterrupted and consistent delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, as those who are instructed to leave have no secure destination and minimal resources for survival.
According to the announcement, the United Nations leader is still deeply worried about the increase in violent incidents in the West Bank, such as heightened Israeli security efforts, a large number of deaths and detentions, and a surge in aggressive actions by settlers and Palestinians against Israelis.
Humanitarian efforts impeded
The WHO has urged Israel to implement actions to safeguard civilians.
Israel has instructed the UN agency to evacuate its medical warehouse in the southern region due to upcoming ground operations, as stated by Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a social media post. He has urged for the order to be rescinded.
Humanitarian organizations have expressed concern that the current state of affairs in Gaza makes it difficult for them to meet the vast demands and necessities of the area.
According to the most recent report from UNRWA, the organization that supports Palestinian refugees, there are currently over two million individuals residing in the enclave. Of that population, approximately 80% (nearly 1.9 million) have been forced to leave their homes and are now displaced. UNRWA is currently providing shelter for 1.2 million of these displaced residents in its facilities.
The OCHA, the UN office for humanitarian affairs, reported that aid distributions were only able to occur in the Rafah governorate of southern Gaza on Sunday. In the neighboring Khan Younis governorate, distributions were largely halted due to the intensity of the ongoing hostilities.
Furthermore, the southern region of Gaza was largely isolated from the central area due to Israeli forces restricting movement, including the delivery of essential supplies for humanitarian aid.
Threat of disease and famine
According to OCHA’s report, there are ongoing worries about the spread of waterborne illnesses caused by drinking from contaminated sources, especially in the northern region. This is due to the closure of the water desalination plant and the pipeline from Israel.
Additionally, there has been minimal progress in the availability of drinking and household water for residents in northern Gaza for several weeks.
The WFP remains concerned about the persistent threat of widespread starvation in Gaza, particularly for individuals with chronic conditions, senior citizens, children, and individuals with disabilities.
to the Democratic Republic of Congo
The International Criminal Court’s trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo
Recently, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim Khan, completed his initial trip to Israel and the State of Palestine. During his visit, he spoke with victims from both sides of the conflict.
This visit was significant as it was the first time a Prosecutor from the court, which was created in 2002 through the Rome Statute, had visited. The court’s purpose is to examine and prosecute individuals who are charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
On Sunday, Mr. Khan released a statement stating that his mission is to ensure that the law is enforced and everyone feels protected by it.
‘Scenes of calculated cruelty’
He stated that the trip to Israel was arranged by the loved ones and acquaintances of Israeli citizens who were victims of Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions during their violent attack on southern Israel on October 7.
Mr. Khan travelled to Kibbutz Beeri and Kibbutz Kfar Azza, as well as the site of the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, where he “witnessed scenes of calculated cruelty”.
Working towards accountability
He stated that the assaults on innocent Israeli citizens are among the most severe global offenses, which greatly appall humanity’s moral compass, and for which the ICC was created to deal with.
During my meeting with the families of the victims who were affected by these attacks, I made it clear that we are prepared to collaborate with them as we continue our efforts to hold those responsible accountable.
The Prosecutor of the ICC also urged for the prompt and unconditional release of all hostages, stating that they should not be used as human shields or bargaining tools.
Suffering in Gaza and West Bank
Mr. Khan met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior leaders in the West Bank city of Ramallah where “discussions were highly productive as we look to further deepen our cooperation under the Rome Statute.”
He also had conversations with the loved ones of Palestinian casualties, who recounted their individual experiences of hardship in Gaza and the West Bank.
The speaker stated that despite any ongoing breaches of international humanitarian law by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, there are specific legal guidelines that dictate how Israel must react to these attacks in regards to Gaza.
“Instances of conflict occurring in highly populated areas where combatants are believed to be unlawfully hiding among civilians are inherently complicated. However, it is imperative that international humanitarian law be enforced, and the Israeli military is aware of the legal obligations that must be upheld.”
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated that any credible claims of wrongdoing during the conflict should be promptly and impartially looked into. He emphasized the importance of adhering to established legal principles of differentiating between targets, taking precautionary measures, and using appropriate force.
Urgent requirement for assistance
He stressed the importance of providing civilians in Gaza with immediate and widespread access to essential food, water, and medical supplies in order to address the critical humanitarian crisis.
“Any assistance provided must be used appropriately and not redirected by Hamas. I cannot stress this enough. All parties are expected to follow international laws regarding humanitarian aid,” he stated, cautioning that failure to do so will result in necessary action from his Office.
Mr. Khan expressed worry about the rise in brutality towards Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. His office is currently conducting an ongoing investigation into the matter.
Hope for humanity
The statement ended with the expectation of future visits to Israel and Palestine.
Despite the distressing circumstances, he expressed optimism that our shared humanity will persevere through this challenging time. He mentioned the words and compassion shown by the victims he encountered at both places.
In these tumultuous times, the law is crucial. I want to emphasize that we are putting in a lot of effort to safeguard and maintain the law, for everyone’s benefit.