United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres has renewed his demand for a ceasefire in Gaza and said that international law is being violated in the war between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas, on a night where officials in Gaza claimed over 700 people were killed in 24 hours.
Israel has bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip relentlessly since October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,400 people, according to Israeli authorities.
After the attack, Israel cut off supplies of water, food, fuel and electricity to the enclave’s 2.3 million residents, an act the UN has called a form of collective punishment.
More than one million people have been displaced as Israel ordered residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south, but Israeli air raids have continued throughout the territory.
Speaking before the 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday, Guterres pleaded for civilians to be protected and warned that the fighting risked a wider conflagration in the region.
The secretary-general’s comments drew ire from Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who called the speech “shocking”.
More than 700 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli air raids on Gaza, according to Palestinian officials, the highest 24-hour death toll since Israel began bombarding the besieged territory earlier this month.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday it hit more than 400 “Hamas targets” and killed dozens of Hamas fighters in the attacks, and warned that it would take time to achieve its aim of destroying the Palestinian group.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, has said at least 5,791 Palestinians, including 2,360 children, have been killed in the Israeli assault.
A total of 704 people were killed in the previous 24 hours alone, the ministry said on Tuesday.
A small trickle of humanitarian aid has entered Gaza since Saturday from the Egyptian side, but Guterres called such limited assistance “a drop of aid in an ocean of need”.
The US, Israel’s staunchest ally, last week vetoed a resolution backed by 12 other members of the council, which would have called for a pause in fighting, because it did not do enough to stress Israel’s right to self-defense. An earlier Russian-drafted resolution was also rejected.
Nearly 90 countries were on the speakers’ list for Tuesday’s debate, including about 30 foreign ministers and deputy ministers, with many echoing calls for a ceasefire and a halt to attacks on Palestinian civilians amid widespread destruction in Gaza and the mounting death toll.
By: Isaac Clottey