Gaza Becoming ‘Graveyard for Children’ Says the UN Chief

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated on Monday that the safety of civilians “must be paramount” in the Israel and Palestinian militant Hamas conflict, cautioning that the Gaza Strip was turning into “a graveyard for children” as Israeli air strikes intensified.

When speaking to reporters, Guterres said, “We must act now to find a way out of this brutal, awful, agonising dead end of destruction,” and once more demanded an urgent humanitarian ceasefire.

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Israel has pledged to wipe out Hamas, the governing authority in the Gaza Strip, following an October 7th attack by militants that resulted in the deaths of 1,400 people and the taking of over 240 hostages.

Israel has responded by conducting airstrikes, imposing a blockade, and launching a ground invasion. Palestinian health authorities stated the casualty count in Gaza surpasses 10,000.

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The Israeli military reported on Monday that it had targeted 450 Hamas-related sites within the last 24 hours, including locations associated with anti-tank missile launch pads.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, which is under Hamas authority, they have recorded the loss of 10,022 lives in the region, including 4,104 children, since the commencement of Israel’s campaign.

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“Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day,” said Guterres.

He highlighted that there were evident breaches of international humanitarian law taking place. He stressed that the United Nations requires $1.2 billion to facilitate the delivery of aid to 2.7 million individuals in Gaza and the West Bank.

Guterres pointed out that the Israel Defense Forces’ ground operations and continuous airstrikes were impacting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, places of worship, including mosques and churches, as well as U.N. facilities, including shelters. “No one is safe,” he said.

“At the same time, Hamas and other militants use civilians as human shields and continue to launch rockets indiscriminately towards Israel,” he added.

Guterres said that 89 individuals working with the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) had lost their lives in Gaza, which he defined as the most significant casualty count among U.N. aid workers, higher “than in any comparable period in the history of our organization.”

Although aid shipments have been slowly entering Gaza from Egypt through the primary Rafah crossing, which is not connected to Israel, U.N. representatives have consistently stated that this is inadequate to meet the needs of Gaza’s civilian population, which numbers around 2.3 million. Of these, over one million have been displaced due to Israel’s airstrikes.

“The trickle of assistance does not meet the ocean of need. The Rafah crossing alone does not have the capacity to process aid trucks at the scale required,” Guterres continued.

Over the past two weeks, just over 400 trucks have entered Gaza, which is a significant drop from the previous rate of 500 trucks per day before the conflict, and this count doesn’t even include fuel supplies.

Last week, the UN stated that more than one border crossing was required to transport aid to the embattled Gaza Strip, and Kerem Shalom, under Israeli control, is the only one equipped to handle a sufficient number of trucks.

Also Read: Blinken to Hear Demand for Gaza Ceasefire from Regional Ministers in Jordan