UNITED NATIONS: The heads of all major UN agencies issued a rare joint statement Sunday expressing outrage at the civilian death toll in Gaza and calling for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire” in the war between Israel and Hamas.
“For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiralling numbers of lives lost and torn apart,” the UN chiefs said.
The heads of 18 organizations including UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization described the horrific toll on both sides since the October 7 Hamas cross-border attack from Gaza into Israel, which left about 1,400 people dead, mainly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel has retaliated with relentless air and artillery strikes that have killed at least 9,770 people, also mostly civilians, says the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
The UN statement also pointed out that more than 23,000 injured people require immediate treatment within overstretched hospitals.
It said “the horrific killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage, as is cutting off 2.2 million Palestinians from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel.”
“An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable,” the statement added.
It noted that more than “100 attacks against health care” have been reported, “scores of aid workers” have been killed since October 7. Among the slain aid workers were 88 members of the UNRWA, acronym for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
The statement called on Hamas to release the more than 240 hostages it took in its attack, and urged both sides to respect their obligations under international law as the war rages on.
The UN leaders said more food, water, medicine and fuel must be allowed into Gaza to help its besieged population as Israel attacks with the stated goal of destroying Hamas.
“We need an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now,” the statement said.
The UN further said the siege of Gaza by Israeli forces has created “serious challenges for medical staff.”
“In Gaza, thousands are seeking refuge from violence in hospitals, creating serious challenges for medical staff to ensure safe childbirth,” the UN said in a post on the X platform.