Gaza: UN Chief warns it’s turning into a deadly place for children

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an “urgent” Gaza ceasefire, warning that the enclave has become a graveyard for children and taking Hamas to task for using civilians as human shields. “The unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour,” said Guterres as he launched a $1.2 billion flash campaign to help civilians in the besieged Hamas-controlled coastal enclave between Israel and Egypt. He has been among the strong voices calling for a halt to the Gaza War, which was sparked by Hamas’ killing of 1,400 people in southern Israel on October 7 and its seizure of over 240 captives. The mounting Palestinian death toll from Gaza War-related violence, which Hamas asserts is over 10,000 with 4,000 of them presumed to be children, has prompted increased calls for a cease-fire. Guterres explained that “hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.” He stated that “more journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, some 37 journalists and media workers have been killed in the war, of which 32 were Palestinian and four were Israeli. Over 89 aid workers have also been killed, with Guterres explaining that “More UN aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organization.” He blamed both Israel and Hamas for the carnage, which he said was a “crisis of humanity” that was “shaking the world.” “Ground operations by the Israel Defense Forces and continued bombardment are hitting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities – including shelters,” Guterres said. “No one is safe,” he added. “At the same time, Hamas and other militants use civilians as human shields and continue to launch rockets indiscriminately towards Israel,” Guterres said. He condemned Hamas’s October 7 attack and called for the immediate release of the hostages the group seized that day. Guterres urged all parties to the conflict to abide by international law, noting that “no party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law.” Israel has closed its commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom and its pedestrian one at Erez, until Hamas releases the hostages. Guterres said that the trickle of goods that enter Gaza through Rafah “does not meet the ocean of need” nor is that crossing designed to handle such traffic. “Just over 400 trucks have crossed into Gaza over the past two weeks – compared with 500 a day before the conflict. And crucially, this does not include fuel,” Guterres said. Palestinians in Gaza depend on fuel to generate electricity and purify water. “Without fuel, newborn babies in incubators and patients on life support will die. Water cannot be pumped or purified,” he said, adding that “Trucks loaded with critical relief will be stranded.” According to the UN, there has been no electricity in Gaza since October 11. On Monday, the UN explained, 93 trucks primarily carrying food items, medicines, health supplies, bottled water and hygiene products crossed from Egypt into Gaza. Prior to the start of the Gaza War, some 500 truckloads of goods entered Gaza every working day, the UN explained.