“I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa hospital. The images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital are harrowing,” the UN chief said in a statement, issued late on Friday New York time.
He stated that he did not forget the terror attacks committed in Israel by Hamas and the killing, maiming and abductions, including of women and children. He stressed that all hostages held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Mr. Guterres added that for nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes.
“This must stop,” he stressed.
Nowhere is safe
Mr. Guterres further noted that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “horrific”.
“Not nearly enough food, water and medicine are coming in to meet people’s needs. Fuel to power hospitals and water plants is running out,” he said, noting that shelters by the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) were at nearly four times their full capacity “and are being hit in bombardments”.
“Morgues are overflowing. Shops are empty. The sanitation situation is abysmal. We are seeing an increase in diseases and respiratory illnesses, especially among children. An entire population is traumatized. Nowhere is safe.”
Respect humanitarian law
Renewing his appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire, the Secretary-General underscored that international humanitarian law must be respected.
“Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian and medical workers and assets must be protected. Civilians must also not be used as human shields,” he said, urging also that essential supplies and services, and unimpeded humanitarian access must be safely allowed into and across Gaza “at a scale commensurate with this dramatic situation”.
The UN chief underscored, “all those with influence must exert it to ensure respect for the rules of war, end the suffering and avoid a spillover of the conflict that could engulf the whole region.”