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UN Chief Guterres Renews Ceasefire Plea Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“It is time to silence the guns,” he stated, speaking from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing with the enclave.

He also urged Israel to provide “total, unfettered” access to humanitarian goods throughout Gaza.

A UN-supported food security assessment this week highlighted that 1.1 million people in Gaza were grappling with catastrophic hunger and starvation, warning of an imminent man-made famine in the north between now and May.

Mr. Guterres, emphasizing his visit to Rafah “to spotlight the pain of Palestinians in Gaza,” spoke a day after Russia and China vetoed a US draft resolution at the UN, which called for an immediate ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held in Gaza.

“It’s time to truly flood Gaza with life-saving aid. The choice is clear: either surge or starvation. Blocked relief trucks on the Egyptian side of the border are a moral outrage,” said Mr. Guterres, who also called for the release of Israeli hostages.

“I want Palestinians in Gaza to know: You are not alone. People around the world are outraged by the horrors we are all witnessing in real-time. Palestinians in Gaza remain stuck in a non-stop nightmare,” he added.

The Rafah crossing serves as one of the main entry points for aid into Gaza, where long queues of aid trucks await Israeli approval to cross.

Western nations and aid organizations have criticized Israel for its inspection process, blaming it for slowing down the entry of much-needed assistance.

Israel refutes claims of hindering humanitarian relief, asserting that inspections are necessary to prevent Hamas from diverting aid.

The conflict in Gaza erupted when Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,200 casualties and the seizure of 253 hostages.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 32,000 Palestinians have died in Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and ongoing ground offensive.

Earlier, Mr. Guterres met with UN humanitarian aid workers in el-Arish, the closest Egyptian city to Gaza, where much of the international relief for the enclave is delivered and stockpiled. He subsequently visited a hospital where injured Palestinians are receiving treatment.

His visit coincides with Israel’s plans to initiate a ground operation in Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians seek shelter. Israel claims Hamas leaders are hiding in the southern city, where Hamas battalions are still active.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuffed international criticism of the planned offensive, asserting that “no international pressure will halt Israel” from achieving its war objectives.

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