The UN General Assembly: Gaza situation is catastrophic

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President of the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis, said that the situation in Gaza is “catastrophic, unconscionable and shameful,” expressing “shock and dismay” at reports that hundreds of people have been killed and injured this month.

This came in Francis’ speech at the Assembly session to discuss the issue of Washington’s use of its veto in the Security Council on February 20, 2024, against a draft resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

In his speech at the opening of the session, he also expressed his deep concern about the intense Israeli air strikes on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, including residential areas.

He said, quoting what UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said that any ground operation in this densely populated region would leave the fragile humanitarian operation “on the brink of collapse.”

“I urgently call for the exercise of the utmost restraint in order to save the lives of innocent civilians,” Francis said.

Francis renewed his call for “an immediate ceasefire to be implemented on humanitarian grounds and for all parties to comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

Especially with regard to the protection of civilians and civilian facilities, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and ensuring full and unhindered access to humanitarian aid for those in need.”

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Moreover, he said, “After 150 days of violence, destruction, despair, and the dehumanization of people, every day,” he said, “this painful reality continues to reinforce feelings of frustration and disappointment.”

“Especially among those caught in the crossfire who look to the United Nations as a guarantor of good.”

He added: “Every passing day threatens to deepen our failure to fulfill our moral obligations and duties, and every loss of life increases the stain on our collective conscience.”

He called for working with determination to end the conflict immediately and “lay the foundations for a future in which Israel and the State of Palestine can coexist in peace.”

As a result of the war and Israeli restrictions, the residents of Gaza, especially the Gaza and northern governorates, are on the verge of famine, in light of a severe scarcity of food, water, medicine, and fuel supplies.

About two million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, which has been besieged by Israel for 17 years, were also displaced.

The ongoing Israeli war on Gaza left more than 30,000 martyrs, most of them children and women, an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe and massive destruction of infrastructure and property, according to Palestinian and UN data.

This necessitated the appearance of Israel for the first time since its establishment in 1948 before the International Court of Justice on charges of committing “genocide” crimes.