NEW YORK — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum” during his remarks to the Security Council on the Middle East Tuesday.
“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said, adding that Palestinians “have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence.”
At the same time, Guterres noted that “the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.” He added that Palestinian people should not be collectively punished for Hamas’ attacks, either.
Therefore, according to Guterres, all parties of the conflict should “take constant care in the conduct of military operations to spare civilians” as well as “respect and protect hospitals and respect the inviolability of UN facilities which today are sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians.”
Guterres called the intensified strikes on Gaza by Israel “deeply alarming” as “the level of civilian casualties, and the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods continue to mount.”
At least 35 of Guterres’ UN colleagues working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees were killed in the bombardment of Gaza over the last two weeks, according to the secretary-general.
He said “the clear violations of international humanitarian law” are witnessed in Gaza, offering Israel’s order for more than one million people to evacuate earlier this month as an example.
Guterres emphasized that the aid delivered to Gaza does not correspond to its enormous needs, including the fuel supplies that are about to run out “in a matter of days.”
He reiterated his appeal for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and an immediate release of all hostages “without conditions.” — CNN