Details

Remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the General Assembly 67th plenary meeting on Middle East, Palestine.

“The past ten days have witnessed a dangerous and horrific surge in deadly violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly Gaza, and in Israel.
I am deeply shocked by the continued air and artillery bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza. As of 19 May, this had claimed the lives of at least 208 Palestinians, including 60 children, and injured thousands more.
The continued indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and other militant groups towards population centres in Israel, resulting in at least 12 fatalities including two children, and hundreds of injuries, is also unacceptable.
My heart goes out today to the victims and their loved ones.
The fighting must stop immediately. I appeal to all parties to cease hostilities, now and I reiterate my call on all sides for an immediate ceasefire.
The hostilities have caused serious damage to vital civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including roads and electricity lines, contributing to a humanitarian emergency. Crossings into Gaza have been closed and power shortages are affecting water supplies.
Hundreds of buildings and homes have been destroyed, damaged, or rendered uninhabitable. Airstrikes have damaged several hospitals, which were already short of supplies due to years of debilitating closures exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fighting has left thousands of Palestinians homeless, and forced over fifty thousand people to leave their homes and seek shelter in UNRWA schools, mosques, and other places with little access to water, food, hygiene or health services.
I was horrified by reports that nine members of one family were killed in al-Shati refugee camp.
If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.
The destruction of media offices and the killing of a journalist in Gaza are extremely concerning. Journalists must be able to carry out their essential work, including in conflict zones, without fear of attack and harassment. They must be protected and respected.
I am deeply distressed by damage to United Nations facilities in Gaza. United Nations premises are inviolable, including during armed conflict. Humanitarian installations must be respected and protected.
United Nations agencies and our partners continue to provide aid to the people of Gaza.
UNRWA is providing drinking water, sanitation, and electricity generators for those sheltering in its schools, while the World Food Programme has provided electronic vouchers to 74,000 people in Gaza.
Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock and I will launch a full humanitarian appeal for funding as soon as possible and in the meanwhile, to meet immediate needs, I am working on an allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund, and the Humanitarian Coordinator intends to release $14m from the Humanitarian Fund for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
I urge donors to follow through on the pledges they have made.
Access for humanitarian goods is paramount. Attacks by militant groups on areas surrounding crossing points are unacceptable.
At the same time, Israel has a duty to allow and facilitate rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid – including food, fuel and medical supplies – into Gaza.
Meanwhile, rockets fired by militants in Gaza have reached as far as Tel Aviv and its suburbs and Ben Gurion airport, claiming civilian lives, causing hundreds of injuries, and damaging residential and commercial property.
Even wars have rules. First and foremost, civilians must be protected.
Indiscriminate attacks, and attacks against civilians and civilian property, are violations of the laws of war.
So are attacks against military objectives that cause disproportionate loss of civilian life and injury to civilians.
There is no justification, including counterterrorism or self-defence, for the abdication by the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law.
I urge the Israeli authorities to abide by the laws governing armed conflict, including the proportionate use of force. I call on them to exercise maximum restraint in the conduct of military operations…”

Full Remarks [as delivered]: www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2021-05-20/secretary-general%E2%80%99s-remarks-the-general-assembly-meeting-the-situation-the-middle-east-and-palestine-delivered