Hamas-Israel crisis: Antonio Guterres calls for immediate cerasefire

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to 'ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer and facilitate the release of hostages', in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians queue for water in Gaza. Photo Courtesy: WHO/Ahmed Zakot

"Divisions are splintering societies and tensions threaten to boil over," he said.

"It is vital to be clear on principles" he added, "starting with the protection of civilians," the UN chief said.

He also emphasised that the world cannot lose sight of the only realistic foundation for peace and stability in the Middle East – a two-state solution.

“Israelis must see their legitimate need for security materialized and Palestinians must see their legitimate need for an independent State realized, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”

Guterres said nothing could justify the deliberate killing and kidnapping of civilians, or the Hamas rocket launches against civilian targets, but he said it was important to recognize the attacks by Hamas "did not happen in a vacuum".

"The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation", he added.

"But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the punishment of the Palestinian people."

On day 17 of the Gaza-Israel crisis- which started on October 7, 2023- UN humanitarians on Tuesday (October 24, 2023) pleaded for desperately needed fuel deliveries and other relief items to prevent the already dire situation in the enclave from worsening further.

This amounted to 400 children reportedly either killed or injured daily. Additionally, more than 30 Israeli children reportedly have lost their lives, and dozens remain in captivity within the Gaza Strip.