UN chief says Gaza becoming a 'graveyard for children' - GulfToday

UN chief says Gaza becoming a 'graveyard for children'


Palestinians evacuate wounded in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza Strip. AP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the protection of civilians "must be paramount" in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, warning that the Gaza Strip was becoming "a graveyard for children."

"We must act now to find a way out of this brutal, awful, agonizing dead end of destruction," Guterres told reporters, and again called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

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

He said clear violations of international humanitarian law were being committed. He said the UN needs $1.2 billion to help deliver aid to 2.7 million people in Gaza and the West Bank.

"Ground operations by the Israel Defence Forces and continued bombardment are hitting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities — including shelters. No one is safe," Guterres told reporters.

Gaza-children Palestinian children run as they flee from Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. AFP

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

Guterres said 89 people working with the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) had been killed in Gaza, which he described as the highest toll for UN aid workers, higher "than in any comparable period in the history of our organisation."

Aid trucks have been trickling into Gaza from Egypt via Rafah, the main crossing that does not border Israel. But UN officials have repeatedly said this was insufficient for Gaza's civilian population of about 2.3 million, more than one million of whom have been made homeless by Israel's bombardment.

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

He said just over 400 trucks had crossed into Gaza over the past two weeks, compared with 500 a day before the conflict, adding the numbers did not include fuel supplies.

The United Nations last week said more than one border crossing was needed to deliver aid to the besieged Gaza Strip and Kerem Shalom — controlled by Israel — is the only one equipped to take enough trucks.




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