In a strong denunciation of Israel's actions in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed grave concerns over the escalating civilian casualties in Gaza, which have now tragically exceeded 25,000.
Speaking at a U.N. summit on Sunday, Guterres described the scale of destruction and loss of civilian life as unparalleled in his tenure as Secretary-General. Guterres emphasized the urgent need for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.
This cessation of hostilities, he stressed, is crucial to alleviate the suffering in Gaza, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches all those in dire need, and facilitating the immediate and unconditional release of hostages.
Devastating Gaza Invasion
Since the conflict's outbreak in early October, following an unexpected attack by Hamas on Israel, the situation has deteriorated rapidly into a full-scale military invasion of the Gaza Strip. The recent figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry are alarming: the death toll among Palestinian civilians stands at 25,000, with an additional 60,000 injured, predominantly women and children.
Experts have categorized the Israeli military's campaign in Gaza as one of the most destructive in recent history. Gaza City, which was once the region's largest settlement, has been virtually razed due to relentless airstrikes.
Moreover, there have been reports, supported by satellite imagery, of the Israeli military targeting sensitive areas, including cemeteries, with bulldozers. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, with nearly all of its 2.3 million residents displaced and in desperate need of aid.
The collapse of societal infrastructure has led to the spread of diseases, and U.N. officials have raised alarms about the looming threat of mass famine.
Cease-Fire Efforts Stalled
Guterres, a prominent advocate for peace, has persistently called for a cease-fire, a stance that both Israel and Hamas have so far resisted.
A brief pause in hostilities in November saw the release of about half of the approximately 240 hostages held by Hamas. Meanwhile, the Biden administration in the United States has intensified its calls for Israel to moderate its ground invasion and support the welfare of Palestinian civilians.
The U.S. government has been clear in its stance that Israel must facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian civilian government in Gaza through the Palestinian Authority, a proposal that Israel has staunchly opposed. Adding to the international pressure, Guterres labeled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of a two-state solution as "totally unacceptable," citing it as a perpetual aggravator of a conflict that poses a significant threat to global peace and security.
This sentiment is increasingly echoed by a growing number of Democrats in the U.S. Congress, who are urging the Biden administration to adopt a firmer stance on Israel amid growing dissatisfaction with how the conflict is being managed.