News   /   Palestine

West Asia ‘on verge of abyss’: UN chief warns amid deteriorating crisis in Gaza

A view shows the remains of a Palestinian house destroyed in Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the West Asia region is “on the verge of an abyss” as the situation in the Gaza Strip is rapidly deteriorating amid the unrelenting bombardment of the enclave by the Israeli military.

“We are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East,” Guterres warned in a statement on Sunday.

He called on the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement to release all Israeli captives “immediately” and “without conditions”, and urged the Tel Aviv regime to allow humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza.

“Gaza is running out of water, electricity and other essential supplies,” Guterres noted in the statement.

UN stocks of food, water, medical supplies and fuel in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and the Israeli-occupied territories “can be dispatched within hours”, he said, adding that staff “need to be able to bring these supplies into and throughout Gaza safely, and without impediment.”

“Each one of these two objectives is valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips, and they must be implemented because it is the right thing to do,” stated Guterres, who emphasized it was his duty to make both appeals “in this dramatic moment.”

UNRWA calls on Israel to protect Gazans

Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has called upon Israeli authorities to protect all civilians sheltering in its facilities across the besieged Gaza Strip, including those in Gaza City and in the northern flank of the coastal enclave.

Despite the Israeli order to evacuate more than 1 million persons from northern Gaza and Gaza City to the southern Gaza Strip, many, particularly pregnant women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, will not be able to flee the area, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement.

They have no choice and must be protected at all times, the statement read.

Wars have rules, the UNRWA stressed, noting that “civilians, hospitals, schools, clinics and United Nations premises cannot be a target.”

The UN agency emphasized that it is sparing no efforts to advocate with parties to the conflicts to meet their obligations under international law to protect civilians, including those seeking refuge in UNRWA shelters.

“UNRWA shelters in Gaza and northern Gaza are no longer safe. This is unprecedented,” the statement said. 

“This war should be no exception, protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including United Nations buildings, applies to this conflict too,” the statement concluded.

On October 7, Hamas launched Operation al-Aqsa Storm deep into the territories occupied by the Israeli regime. The operation involved large-scale air, land, and sea strikes.

The group said the operation was a reaction to the recurring desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied al-Quds as well as intensified Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Israel responded with intensive air strikes on civilian targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 2,670 Palestinians in Gaza and wounding some 10,000 others, according to the territory’s health ministry.

The regime has also intensified the siege of Gaza, leaving the city, home to more than two million Palestinians, without water, electricity, fuel and internet.

According to reports, Israel also destroyed some 135,000 houses and residential units in Gaza since the beginning of its savage attacks.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku