Israel unleashed its bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed across the Gaza border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians…reports Asian Lite News
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday sharply criticized the “unprecedented escalation” by Israel of the bombardments in Gaza, and repeated a call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire for the delivery of aid.
“I was encouraged by what seemed to be a growing consensus for the need of at least a humanitarian pause in the Middle East,” Guterres said in a statement. “Regrettably, instead I was surprised by an unprecedented escalation of bombardments, undermining humanitarian objectives.”
He called for the situation to be reversed, during a visit to the Qatari capital, Doha, where he met with foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman.
Guterres spoke as Israel announced Saturday that the war with Hamas had “entered a new phase,” with its forces relentlessly pounding Gaza three weeks into a conflict sparked by the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
Israel unleashed its bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed across the Gaza border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing more than 220 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said Israeli strikes had killed 7,703 people, mainly civilians, with more than 3,500 of them children.
“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, together with the unconditional release of hostages and the delivery of relief at a level corresponding to the dramatic needs of the people in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes,” Guterres said in the statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Qatar, which hosts a political bureau for Hamas in Doha and has provided millions of dollars in financial aid to Gaza, has been linked to mediation efforts for a prisoner exchange between the Palestinian militant group and Israel.
The top diplomat “underscored the State of Qatar’s complete rejection of the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip and the attempts to forcibly displace its people,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
He also warned of “the danger of a ground escalation… to the safety of civilians and hostages in Gaza.”
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanded on Saturday a “pause of hostilities” to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip after the intense overnight bombing of the coastal territory.
“Gaza is in complete blackout and isolation while heavy shelling continues. UNRWA warns about the desperate situation of Gaza people without electricity, food, water,” he said on social media.
“Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law,” he said. “A pause of hostilities is urgently needed to enable humanitarian access,” Borrell added.
Borrell also condemned all attacks on civilians, “including continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel” and called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”
Late on Friday Israel stepped up its air campaign on Gaza, turning hundreds of buildings and thousands of houses into rubble.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk warned earlier on Saturday there was the potential for thousands more civilians to die if Israel presses a major ground offensive in Gaza.