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Antonio Guterres urges Israel, Hamas ‘to show political courage’ and secure ceasefire
Antonio Guterres
Photo Caption: UNOCHA/Ismael Abu Dayyah

Antonio Guterres urges Israel, Hamas ‘to show political courage’ and secure ceasefire

| @indiablooms | 08 May 2024, 05:03 pm

The UN Secretary-General on Tuesday reiterated his appeal to Israel to stop any escalation in Gaza, amid reports that its forces have taken over key border crossings in Rafah.

In the far south of the Gaza Strip, bordering Egypt, the town of Rafah has been hosting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven from elsewhere in the enclave due to the ongoing Israeli military operation.

There are also grave concerns that humanitarian aid stocks are fast running out across the war-torn Strip, and fuel reserves will run out by the end of the day.

"The closure of both the Rafah and Karem Shalom crossings is especially damaging to an already dire humanitarian situation. They must be re-opened immediately,” Secretary-General António Guterres said at a press stakeout at UN Headquarters in New York.

He called on the Israeli Government to stop any escalation and engage constructively in the ongoing diplomatic talks.

“After more than 1,100 Israelis killed in the Hamas terror attacks of 7 October, after more than 34,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, haven’t we seen enough?”

Agreement essential

Mr. Guterres underscored the need for an agreement between the Government of Israel and the leadership of Hamas to stop the “unbearable suffering” of both Palestinians in Gaza and the Israeli hostages and their families.

“It would be tragic if weeks of intense diplomatic activity for peace in Gaza, yield no ceasefire. No release of hostages. And a devastating offensive in Rafah,” he said, stressing:

“I reiterate my appeal for both parties to show the political courage and spare no effort to secure an agreement now.”

Human catastrophe

The UN chief further emphasized that a full-scale assault on Rafah will be a “human catastrophe”.

“Countless more civilian casualties. Countless more families forced to flee yet again – with nowhere safe to go. Because there is no safe place in Gaza,” Mr. Guterres said.

“Attacking Rafah will further upend our efforts to support people in dire humanitarian straits as famine looms.”

Call on ‘those with influence’

Mr. Guterres also warned that the repercussions of an attack on Rafah will be felt far beyond the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and the wider Middle East region.

“Even the best friends of Israel are clear: An assault on Rafah would be a strategic mistake, a political calamity, and a humanitarian nightmare,” he said.

“I appeal to all those with influence over Israel to do everything in their power to help avert even more tragedy.”

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