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UN chief censures Israel for ‘collective punishment’ of Gazans

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has criticized the Israeli regime for its continued bombardment and shelling of the people in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

He said an attack earlier this month on Israel by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas is no pretext for imposing a "collective punishment" on civilians living in Gaza.

Guterres was addressing a summit in Egypt to discuss the ongoing war in Palestine on Saturday.

The UN chief said Operation Al-Aqsa Storm by Hamas against Israel on October 7, which killed 1,400 Israeli military forces and settlers, “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Guterres called for the protection of civilians in Gaza and sparing of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and buildings representing the United Nations.

The comments by UN chief came days after 500 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a massive bombing that targeted a hospital in Gaza where people had taken shelter from the Israeli bombardment.

Israel has denied it was behind the attack despite statements from authorities in Gaza and governments in the region showing the regime was behind the massacre.

“We meet in the heart of a region that is reeling in pain and one step from the precipice,” said Guterres in his speech to the Cairo summit.

Nearly 4,500 people have died over the past two weeks as a result of the incessant bombing and shelling of residential areas in Gaza, a besieged enclave on the Mediterranean which is home to more than 2.3 million people.

Leaders of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates as well as Italy and Spain and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas were present in the Saturday meeting in Cairo which sought ways to deliver humanitarian aid to people in Gaza and to find a settlement to the crisis.

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