In a statement issued on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for an end to the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, emphasizing the need to break the cycle of violence, animosity, and polarization. The conflict had persisted for three days at that point.
Guterres reiterated his condemnation of the attacks launched by Hamas and others from Gaza onto Israeli towns and villages. These attacks, which began on Saturday, had resulted in over 800 Israeli fatalities and more than 2,500 injuries. While acknowledging the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people, Guterres firmly stated that such acts of terror, including civilian casualties, could not be justified. He renewed his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the release of all hostages.
The Secretary-General recognized that this violence was not isolated, but rooted in a longstanding conflict marked by a 56-year occupation with no apparent political resolution in sight. He expressed his deep concern over the Israeli authorities’ decision to impose a complete siege on Gaza, which had already been under blockade since 2007. This siege would deprive the 2.3 million residents of Gaza of electricity, food, water, and gas, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation.
In response to the attacks, Israel had launched a relentless series of airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in the reported deaths of over 500 Palestinians, including women and children, and injuries to more than 3,000. Guterres underscored the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law, emphasizing the protection of civilians and the prohibition of targeting civilian sites and infrastructure.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep concern about reports of Israeli missiles striking health facilities, residential towers, and a mosque inside Gaza. He highlighted the impact on displaced families, particularly those sheltering in UNRWA schools, where around 137,000 people sought refuge.
Guterres stressed the urgent need for medical supplies, food, fuel, and other humanitarian assistance in Gaza. He called for safe access for aid workers and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to providing aid to the beleaguered territory, urging the international community to mobilize immediate humanitarian support.
In addition, Guterres emphasized the importance, even in these challenging times, of considering the long-term perspective and avoiding actions that might empower extremists and threaten the prospects for lasting peace. He called for the realization of both Israel’s security needs and the Palestinian state’s establishment, emphasizing the vision of a two-state solution in accordance with UN resolutions, international law, and previous agreements as the path to long-term stability in the region.
Lastly, the Secretary-General revealed ongoing discussions with regional leaders to express concerns, convey outrage, and advance efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading further across the Middle East.