UN chief Antonio Guterres pleaded Saturday for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas, demanding global “action to end this godawful nightmare.”
Addressing a peace summit in Cairo as the war raged into its third week, Guterres said the tiny Palestinian enclave of 2.4 million people was living through “a humanitarian catastrophe” with thousands dead and more than a million people displaced.
His remarks came just hours after a first contingent of aid trucks rumbled into southern Gaza, which Guterres said needed to be rapidly scaled up, with “much more” help sent through.
The Palestinians need “a continuous delivery of aid to Gaza at the scale that is needed,” he told the Cairo “Summit for Peace” which was attended by many Arab leaders.
The current bloodshed began on October 7 when Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border into Israel, launching an attack that has killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in the deadliest attack on Israeli soil since the state was founded in 1948.
Israel has hit back with a relentless bombing campaign, killing more than 4,100 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Although diplomatic efforts to end the violence have made little headway, Cairo – historically a key mediator between Hamas and Israel – announced plans to hold the summit a week into the war, urging “restraint” and calling for a return to peace talks, which have been frozen for years.
Diplomatic efforts have so far focused on getting humanitarian aid into the war-torn enclave where Israel has imposed a total siege, cutting off supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food.