United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed his “deep sadness” over Israel’s decision to impose a “total siege” on the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s announcement that Israel would halt all supplies of electricity, food and fuel “will only exacerbate the already bad humanitarian situation in the coastal Palestinian territories,” Guterres said in a press conference from New York.
He added: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza was very bad before these hostilities, and now it will deteriorate significantly.”
Guterres pointed out that “there is an urgent need for medical equipment, food, fuel and other humanitarian supplies, in addition to ensuring access for humanitarian workers.”
He called on Israel to “facilitate” the arrival of international humanitarian aid to Gaza in conjunction with declaring a complete siege on it.
He reminded Israel “of the necessity of the objectives of military operations being consistent with international humanitarian law and the necessity of respecting and protecting civilians.”
He stressed that the recent wave of violence “does not come out of nowhere” but rather “is the result of a long-term conflict with an occupation that lasted 56 years with no political end in sight.”
“Israel’s legitimate security needs must be met, and the Palestinians must see a clear path to establishing their state,” Guterres said.
He stressed the importance of “peace through negotiation in a way that meets the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis and preserves their security alike in accordance with the vision based on a two-state solution in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”
He believed that this alone “can achieve long-term peace and lasting stability for the people of this land and the Middle East region as a whole.”
At dawn on Saturday, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza launched Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood” in response to “the continuing attacks by Israeli forces and settlers against the Palestinian people, their property and sanctities, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.”
On the other hand, the Israeli army launched Operation Iron Swords and continues to launch intensive raids on many areas in the Gaza Strip, which is inhabited by more than two million Palestinians who suffer from deteriorating living conditions as a result of an ongoing Israeli siege since 2006.