AKIPRESS.COM - Only a negotiated peace that fulfils the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis, together with their security alike — the long-held vision of a two-State solution, in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements — can bring long-term stability to the people of this land and the wider Middle East region, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
"I recognize the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people. But, nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians. I reiterate my call to immediately cease these attacks and release all hostages," he stated.
"While I recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I also remind Israel that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law," the UN Secretary-General said.
"Civilians must be respected and protected at all times. Civilian infrastructure must never be a target. We already have reports of Israeli missiles striking health facilities inside Gaza, as well as multi-storied residential towers and a mosque. Two UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] schools sheltering displaced families in Gaza were also hit. Some 137,000 people are currently sheltering in UNRWA facilities, with the number increasing as heavy shelling and airstrikes continue," he went on saying.
"I am deeply distressed by announcement that Israel will initiate a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, nothing allowed in — no electricity, food or fuel. The humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities; now it will only deteriorate exponentially. Medical equipment, food, fuel and other humanitarian supplies are desperately needed, along with access for humanitarian personnel. Relief and entry of essential supplies into Gaza must be facilitated and the UN will continue efforts to provide aid to respond to these needs," he added.
The UN Secretary-General urged all sides and the relevant parties to allow United Nations access to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians trapped and helpless in the Gaza Strip. He appealed to the international community to mobilize immediate humanitarian support for this effort.
"This most recent violence does not come in a vacuum. The reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year long occupation and no political end in sight. It’s time to end this vicious circle of bloodshed, hatred and polarization. Israel must see its legitimate needs for security materialized and Palestinians must see a clear perspective for the establishment of their own State realized," the UN Secretary-General said.