'Moral Outrage': UN Chief Calls to 'Flood Gaza' With Aid

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits border city of Rafah amid war with Israel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
UN Chief on Gaza Crisis: It's a 'Moral Outrage'
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen after his visit to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stood near a long line of waiting trucks on Saturday and declared it time to "truly flood Gaza with lifesaving aid," calling the starvation inside the enclave a "moral outrage." Guterres spoke on the Egyptian side of the border near the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israel plans to launch a ground assault despite widespread warnings of a potential disaster. More than half of Gaza's population has taken refuge there. "Any further onslaught will make things even worse—worse for Palestinian civilians, worse for hostages, and worse for all people in the region," Guterres said, per the AP. He spoke a day after the UN Security Council didn't reach consensus on the wording of a resolution supporting "an immediate and sustained ceasefire." Guterres noted difficulties of getting aid into Gaza, for which international aid groups have largely blamed Israel.

"Here from this crossing, we see the heartbreak and heartlessness ... a long line of blocked relief trucks on one side of the gates, the long shadow of starvation on the other," he said. He added: "It is time for an ironclad commitment by Israel for total ... access for humanitarian goods to Gaza, and in the Ramadan spirit of compassion, it is also time for the immediate release of all hostages." Hamas is said to hold 100 or so hostages, as well as the remains of 30 more taken in its Oct. 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people and sparked the war. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians now shelter in Rafah. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday an Israeli ground assault on Rafah would be "a mistake" and unnecessary in defeating Hamas. That marks a shift in the position of the US, whose officials have concluded there's no credible way for getting sheltering civilians out of harm's way.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press forward with military-approved plans for the offensive, which he has said is crucial to achieving the stated aim of destroying Hamas. The military has said Rafah is Hamas' last major stronghold and ground forces must target four battalions remaining there. Israel's invasion has killed more than 32,000 people, per Gaza health officials, while leaving much of the enclave in ruins and displacing some 80% of the enclave's 2.3 million people. Gaza's Health Ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants, but it has said women and children make up the majority of the dead. Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths and accuses it of operating within residential areas. More here.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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