UN chief urges Israel, Hamas to cease fire, show political courage amidst Gaza crisis


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the press outside the Security Council Chamber at the UN headquarters in New York, on May 7, 2024. [Xinhua]

As tensions continue to escalate in Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday once again called for Israel and Hamas to demonstrate "political courage" and work towards securing a ceasefire.

Speaking to reporters at UN headquarters in New York, Guterres highlighted the critical situation in the Gaza Strip, especially in Rafah, which borders Egypt and is currently overwhelmed with displaced Palestinians.

Guterres expressed concern about the humanitarian situation, noting that essential aid and fuel supplies are nearly depleted. "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," he stated.

With over 1,100 Israelis and 34,000 Palestinians reported killed due to recent conflicts, Guterres emphasized the staggering cost of the ongoing violence. "Haven't we seen enough?" he implored, stressing the immediate need for both sides to engage in diplomacy rather than further escalation.

The UN chief underscored the severe consequences of continued fighting, particularly any potential full-scale assault on Rafah, which he described as a looming "human catastrophe." He warned, "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."

Guterres's remarks reflect deep concern about the impact of the conflict not only on Gaza but also on the broader Middle East. "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, calling on those with influence over Israel to help avert further tragedy.