Home World News Time To Flood Gaza With Lifesaving Aid: UN Chief António Guterres

Time To Flood Gaza With Lifesaving Aid: UN Chief António Guterres

Gaza aid, UN chief, Rafah
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks after his visit to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Saturday, March 23, 2024. Arabic reads, "Rafah border crossing". (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stood near a long line of waiting trucks on Saturday and declared it was time to “truly flood Gaza with lifesaving aid,” calling the starvation inside the enclave a “moral outrage.” He urged an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Guterres spoke on the Egyptian side of the border not far from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israel plans to launch a ground assault despite widespread warnings of a potential catastrophe. More than half of Gaza’s population has taken refuge there.

“Any further onslaught will make things even worse—worse for Palestinian civilians, worse for hostages and worse for all people in the region,” Guterres said. He spoke a day after the UN Security Council failed to reach consensus on the wording of a US-sponsored resolution supporting “an immediate and sustained ceasefire”.

Guterres repeatedly noted the difficulties of getting aid into Gaza, for which international aid agencies have largely blamed Israel. “Here from this crossing, we see the heartbreak and heartlessness… a long line of blocked relief trucks on one side of the gates, the long shadow of starvation on the other,” he said. About 7,000 aid trucks are waiting in Egypt’s North Sinai province to enter Gaza, Gov. Mohammed Abdel-Fadeil Shousha said in a statement.

Guterres added: “It is time for an ironclad commitment by Israel for total… access for humanitarian goods to Gaza, and in the Ramadan spirit of compassion, it is also time for the immediate release of all hostages.” He later told journalists that a humanitarian ceasefire and hostage release should occur at the same time.

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Hamas is believed to be holding around 100 hostages as well as the remains of 30 others taken in its October 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and sparked the war. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians now shelter in Rafah after fleeing Israel’s offensive elsewhere.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said an Israeli ground assault on Rafah would be “a mistake” and unnecessary in defeating Hamas. That marked a shift in the position for the United States, whose officials have concluded there is no credible way for getting civilians out of harm’s way.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press forward with military-approved plans for the offensive, which he has said is crucial to achieving the stated aim of destroying Hamas. The military has said Rafah is Hamas’ last major stronghold and ground forces must target four battalions remaining there.

Source: AP