UN chief António Guterres called on Wednesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East to ease the “epic human suffering” in the Israel-Gaza conflict. The head of the UN health agency (WHO) said he welcomed the reported agreement between the US and Israel, which would allow food, water and medical aid into the battered enclave via the Egyptian border.
Speaking in Beijing, Mr. Guterres said that a ceasefire would “provide sufficient time and space” to realize two essential appeals that he made earlier this week: to Hamas, for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held in Gaza, and to Israel, to immediately allow aid to enter the sealed-off enclave in the throes of a devastating humanitarian crisis.
“The region is on the precipice,” he warned.
The call came a day after hundreds were killed in a strike at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, which Mr. Guterres strongly condemned, stressing that hospitals and all medical personnel are protected under international law.
Both sides have blamed each other, with Gaza’s de facto authorities accusing the Israeli military, who in turn held misfired rockets launched by Islamic Jihad militants towards Israel responsible.
US President Joe Biden is in Israel where he was met by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Biden pledged support for Israel and said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the lethal explosion at the hospital in Gaza City.
Mr. Biden also announced that Israel had agreed to let aid into the Gaza Strip across the border with Egypt, which was confirmed by Mr. Netanyahu’s office, according to news reports.
In response, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he welcomed US leadership and the Israeli decision allowing essential aid into Gaza saying that “many lives depend on this happening.”