Israeli officials have reacted furiously to the suggestion they’ve violated any laws, and called for Antonio Guterres’ resignation from the United Nations.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres says there have been “clear violations” of humanitarian law in Gaza and called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.
He made the comments before a Security Council that remained divided on the 18th day of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Guterres said the risk of the Gaza war spreading through the region is increasing as societies splinter and tensions threaten to boil over. He called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to deliver desperately needed food, water, medicine and fuel. He also appealed “to all to pull back from the brink before the violence claims even more lives and spreads even farther.”
Guterres stressed that the rules of war must be obeyed.
He said the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify “the horrifying and unprecedented October 7 acts of terror” by Hamas in Israel and demanded the immediate release of all hostages.
But Guterres also stressed that “those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
He expressed deep concern at “the clear violations of international humanitarian law,” calling Israel’s constant bombardment of Gaza and the level of destruction and civilian casualties “alarming.”
Protecting civilians “is paramount in any armed conflict,” he said.
Without naming Hamas, the UN chief stressed that “protecting civilians can never mean using them as human shields.”
Guterres also criticized 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.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, in his address to the council, criticised the secretary general’s remarks. After being told by a reporter at a stakeout later that Guterres stood by his statement, the Israeli minister said: “There is no cause for this, and shame on him.”
Cohen then refused to meet with Guterres, writing on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet.”
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan accused Guterres of having lost “all morality and impartiality” and called for his resignation.
Blinken tells United Nations: ‘Palestinian civilians must be protected’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday that “a civilian is a civilian is a civilian” and said that Palestinian civilians “must be protected.”
America’s top diplomat called on Hamas to stop using civilians as human shields, and told Israel that it must “take precautions.”
Blinken said that food, water and medicine must be allowed to flow into Gaza for the people who need it.
Source: Euronews, AFP, AP – (https://www.euronews.com/2023/10/24/hamas-says-at-least-140-killed-in-gaza-by-israeli-airstrike-overnight-macron-arrives-in-is)