United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded on Tuesday for civilians to be protected in the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants, voicing concern about “clear violations of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip.
“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said.
He added that the Palestinians have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished.
“Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing. However, the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”, argued Guterres.
He appealed to the world to demand that all parties uphold and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law; take constant care in the conduct of military operations to spare civilians; and respect and protect hospitals and respect the inviolability of UN facilities which today are sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians.
He added, “The relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, the level of civilian casualties, and the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods continue to mount and are deeply alarming”.
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