UN Steps Up Gaza Cease-Fire Calls With Strongest Move Since 1971
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres dramatically escalated his call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, invoking the most powerful tool available to a secretary general for the first time in fiveprompted new efforts among Security Council members to act.
Writing to the Security Council on Wednesday, Guterres said the situation in Gaza is “fast deteriorating into a catastrophe” and that he expects public order “to completely break down soon,” which would allow even less aid to enter the region. “An even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement” of Gaza’s population into neighboring countries, he said.
Guterres sent the letter under Article 99 of the UN’sallows the secretary-general to bring any issue seen as threatening international peace to the Security Council’s attention, the UN said.
It marked the first time he’s directly invoked his most powerful diplomatic tool since taking charge of the global body inthe first time the office has explicitly invoked the article since 1971, during the crisis between India and Pakistan that led
In response to the letter, the United Arab Emirates plans to introduce a Security Council resolution Friday thatfor an immediate cease-fire, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. The proposal would call on all parties to comply
The UN’s latest call for a halt comes as Israeli troops push deeper intobattle Hamas militants. The conflict began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government. Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground since then killed more than 16,000 Palestinians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the US and European Union.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a briefing with other members of his war cabinet, rebuffed mounting pressure to halt the military campaign in the southern Gaza Strip,to press on until Hamas is eradicated.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, accused the secretary general of reaching “amoral low” following the release of the letter.
“This is more proof of the secretary general’s moral distortionagainst Israel,” Erdan said in a response letter. “The secretary general’s call for a cease-fire is actually a call to keep Hamas’ reign of terror in Gaza.”
Many Palestinians escaped the initial Israeliin northern Gaza, by fleeing to the south of the territory. That has increased the risks to civilians, now that the south is also under attack.
“The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region,” Guterres said in his letter.
The Security Council on Nov. 15 approved a resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in Israel’s campaign and the release ofA truce was implemented about a week later, but fighting resumed on Dec. 1 when the sides failed to agree on an extension.