For almost a month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed and bombed out of their homes, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said.
“This must stop,” the UN chief warned in his statement late on Friday, after an Israeli airstrike targeted an ambulance outside Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed the targeting of the ambulance, saying it was being used by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
At least 15 people were killed in the attack, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Around 50 others were wounded.
Guterres described the incident as appalling and the images of bodies strewn on the streets outside the hospital as harrowing.
Secretary-General Guterres also condemned the attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel, highlighting the killings, maiming and abductions, including of women and children. He called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held in Gaza.
The death toll from Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza has risen to 9,488, the blockaded enclave’s health ministry said on Saturday. ‘The victims include 3,900 children and 2,509 women, while 24,000 others have been injured,’ ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told a news conference in Gaza City. The victims include 3,900 children and 2,509 women. 24,000 others were injured.
Guterres described the situation in Gaza as one of severe shortages of basic necessities such as food, water and medicine, as well as dwindling supplies of fuel for hospitals and water plants.
The shelters of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) are overflowing and even morgues are overflowing due to the escalating violence, the UN chief said. Shops are empty and the sanitation situation is dire, leading to an increase in diseases and respiratory illnesses, especially among children. Stressing the traumatic impact on the entire population, Guterres said that nowhere in Gaza is safe.
The Secretary-General reiterated his previous calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and called for strict compliance with international humanitarian law. He underlined the need to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian and medical personnel and assets, while stressing that civilians must not be used as human shields.