United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the number of civilians killed in the Gaza Strip shows that something is wrong with Israel’s military operations against Palestinian Hamas militants.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, after the militants killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 hostages in an October 7 attack. Israel has pounded Gaza – an enclave of 2.3 million people – from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground invasion.
“There are violations by Hamas when it has human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” Guterres said Reuters NEXT.
Palestinian officials said 10,569 people have now been killed, 40% of them children.
“It is also important to make Israel understand that it is against Israel’s interests to see every day the terrible picture of the dramatic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people,” Guterres said. “This does not help Israel in terms of world opinion.”
Guterres compared the number of children killed in Gaza to the tally of conflicts around the world he reports each year to the UN Security Council.
“Every year, the highest number of child killings by any of the actors in all the conflicts we witness is in the hundreds,” Guterres said.
Also read: UN leaders say Gaza war must ‘stop now’ as death toll tops 10,000
“We have in a few days in Gaza thousands and thousands of children killed, which means that there is also something clearly wrong in the way military operations are conducted,” he said.
The UN report on children and armed conflict includes a list designed to shame conflict participants in the hope of prompting them to implement measures to protect children. It has long been controversial, with diplomats saying Israel has lobbied in recent years in an effort to stay off the list.
In June, Guterres added Russia’s armed forces to the report’s list of offenders after the United Nations verified that they killed 136 children in Ukraine in 2022. The next report is due in mid-2024.
He also said 92 people working with the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) have been killed in Gaza.
Guterres described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “catastrophic”, adding: “It is absolutely necessary – absolutely necessary – that there be a flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza that meets the dramatic needs facing the population.”
The United Nations is working to increase humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza. Guterres said that in the past 18 days only 630 trucks have been able to enter through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt. The United Nations also wants to be able to use the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which is controlled by Israel.
“We are in intense negotiations with Israel, with the US, with Egypt in order to ensure that we have an effective humanitarian aid in Gaza,” Guterres said. “Until now it’s been too little, too late.”
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