Guterres reiterates ‘utter condemnation’ of ‘abhorrent’ Hamas attack; cautions Israel against military action on civilian population
Guterres also said that he was “deeply distressed” Israel’s “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip and added that the already “dire” situation there will “deteriorate exponentially”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday reiterated his “utter condemnation” of the “abhorrent” attacks by Hamas on Israel and cautioned the country to ensure that its military operations are in accordance with international humanitarian laws.
“I recognise the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people, but nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians”, he said.
As the situation escalates in the region, he said that it is "vital to look to the long-term horizon and avoid irreversible action that would embolden extremists and doom any prospects for lasting peace".
Guterres said that over 800 Israelis have been killed and more than 2,500 injured in the attacks.
“In addition, over one hundred, possibly more, Israelis – civilians and military – have been reported captured by armed groups, including women, children and the elderly”, he said.
He said the hostages must be released immediately.
Guterres said that “in the face of these unprecedented attacks, Israeli airstrikes have pounded Gaza” and reminded Israel “that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law”.
The Israeli missiles have struck health facilities inside Gaza, multi-storied residential towers and a mosque as well as two schools run by the UN aid agency for Palestine which is known as UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
He said that about 137,000 people were sheltering in UNRWA facilities.
He said that he was “alarmed” by the toll on Palestinians from the Israeli strikes that have killed 500 in Gaza and over 3,000 injured.
Guterres also said that he was “deeply distressed” by Israel’s “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip and added that the already “dire” situation there will “deteriorate exponentially”.
He appealed to the international community to mobilise immediate humanitarian support for Gaza.
He said that he and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, are in touch with regional leaders in the region “to advance efforts to avoid any spillover to the wider Middle East”.
Meanwhile, General Assembly President Dennis Francis in statements to two Assembly committees expressed his “deepest concern over the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East”.
Francis said, “I join the Secretary-General in stating, unequivocally, that violence is not a viable path forward; it offers neither sustainable peace nor prosperity for any involved”.
“The attacks by Hamas on Saturday resulted in an escalation that left hundreds dead and scores more wounded, in Israel and in the State of Palestine”, he said.
In a post on the X platform on Saturday, he wrote, “I strongly condemn the attack by Hamas militants against Israel”.
Guterres's Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that UNRWA had 13,000 employees and that of them 300 were international staff.
They could not move out because of the lockdown.