United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appealed for the protection of civilians caught in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and stressed the need for proportionality and precaution by all parties.
“Protection of civilians on both sides is paramount and must be respected at all times,” Guterres said in a statement. “International humanitarian law establishes clear rules that cannot be ignored. It is not an a la carte menu and cannot be applied selectively.”
The United Nations chief also said he was “deeply alarmed by the intensification of the conflict between Israel and Hamas” as fierce fighting raged in Gaza.
The escalation includes “ground operations by the Israel Defense Forces accompanied by intense air strikes, and the continued rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
“Civilians have borne the brunt of the current fighting from the outset,” he said.
“I repeat my utter condemnation of the acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October. There is never any justification for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians. I appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of those civilians held hostage by Hamas.
“I condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza and I am dismayed by reports that two-thirds of those who have been killed are women and children.”
Guterres also underlined his fears “about the risk of a dangerous escalation beyond Gaza.”