UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced a “clear violation” of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces in Gaza as Palestinians in the besieged territory are suffering from “never-before-seen” wounds from relentless airstrikes.
More than 5,700 Palestinians, also mostly civilians, have been martyred across the Gaza Strip in Israeli strikes, according to Gaza health officials.
The Israeli military has bombed entire neighbourhoods in the blockaded territory in response to unprecedented Hamas attacks inside Israel on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 people.
Opening an important UNSC session, Guterres said there was no excuse for the “appalling” violence by Hamas on October 7 but also warned against “collective punishment” of the Palestinians.
“I am deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza. Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” Guterres said, without explicitly naming Israel.
Guterres also said that the Hamas attacks “did not happen in a vacuum” as the Palestinians have been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation”.
The UN chief urged an immediate ceasefire as Israel pounds the Palestinian territory in response to Hamas attacks, with the crisis deeply dividing the Security Council.
Israel voiced anger over the UN chief´s plea before a high-level session of the Security Council, where the Palestinian foreign minister in turn denounced what he described as inaction in the conflict that has killed thousands on both sides, mostly civilians.
His remarks infuriated Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who, pointing his finger at Guterres and raising his voice, recounted graphic accounts of civilians including young children killed in the deadliest single attack in Israeli history.
“Mr Secretary-General, in what world do you live?” Cohen said.
Rejecting tying the violence to the occupation, Cohen said Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians “to the last millimeter” with its withdrawal in 2005.
Israel shortly afterward imposed a blockade of the impoverished territory, in place ever since, after Hamas took power, and it still occupies the West Bank.
Israel´s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on Guterres to resign — writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the UN chief has “expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder”.
Israel using ‘new deadly weapons’
Mohammad Abu Salmiya, the director general of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, says that he has never before seen the types of wounds and injuries occurring in the current war.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Abu Salmiya said what he described as the new types of injuries were likely a result of Israel using “new deadly weapons” against the people of Gaza.
‘Hospitals running out of fuel’
Doctors in Gaza say patients arriving at hospitals are showing signs of disease caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation after more than 1.4 million people fled their homes for temporary shelters under Israel’s heaviest-ever bombardment.
All hospitals say they are running out of fuel to power their electricity generators, leaving them increasingly unable to treat the injured and ill. More than 40 medical centres have halted operations, a health ministry spokesman said.
UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, warned in a post on messaging platform X that it would halt operations in Gaza on Wednesday night because of the lack of fuel.
However, the Israeli military reaffirmed it would bar the entry of fuel to prevent Hamas from seizing it.
’16 martyred in Israeli air strikes’
At least 16 people were martyred and several others injured following the latest Israeli air strikes across Gaza early on Wednesday.
According to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, the Israeli raids hit residential areas in Jabalia and Tal al-Hawa in the north, al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and Khan Younis in the south, according to Al Jazeera.
Guterres, who personally travelled to the crossing between Egypt and Gaza in a push to let in assistance, welcomed the entry of three aid convoys so far through the Rafah crossing.
But Guterres said it was “a drop of aid in an ocean of need,” as the UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned it would be forced to stop working Wednesday due to lack of fuel.
“To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
Israel, backed by the United States, has rejected calls to halt the offensive, saying it would only allow Hamas to regroup.
Jordan Queen slams West double standards
Queen Rania of Jordan has accused Western leaders of a “glaring double standard” for failing to condemn the deaths of civilians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza, as Israel’s war on Hamas threatens to destabilise relations between US and Arab leaders.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, Rania said, “The people all around the Middle East, including in Jordan, we are just shocked and disappointed by the world’s reaction to this catastrophe that is unfolding. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen a glaring double standard in the world.”
“When October 7 happened, the world immediately and unequivocally stood by Israel and its right to defend itself and condemned the attack that happened … but what we’re seeing in the last couple of weeks, we’re seeing silence in the world,” she told CNN.
The United States last week vetoed a draft resolution on the crisis, saying it did not sufficiently support Israel´s right to respond to Hamas.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked the Security Council to back a new US-led resolution that “incorporates substantive feedback.”
The draft, seen by AFP, would defend the “inherent right of all states” to self-defense while calling for compliance with international law. It would back “humanitarian pauses” to let in aid but not a full ceasefire.
Veto-wielding Russia — accustomed to being on the receiving end at the Security Council over its invasion of Ukraine — quickly said it would oppose the US draft, which also came under criticism from US regional ally Egypt.