Monday, May 27, 2024

Israel brought ‘relentless death and destruction’ to Gaza, says UN chief marking six months of war

Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the opening of the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-sixth session.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has brought “relentless death and destruction” to Palestinians in the strip, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech marking six months since Israel’s war on Gaza began. The UN chief said that “nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

 Over 32,000 Palestinians were reported killed the vast majority of women and children in Gaza since the October 07 attack.

“I once again utterly condemn the use of sexual violence, torture injuring and kidnapping of civilians, the firing of rockets towards civilian targets and the use of human shields”, he said, calling again for the unconditional release of all hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip. 

Having met many of the family members of those held captive “I carry their anguish, uncertainty and deep pain with me every day”, added Mr. Guterres.

Guterres said he was deeply troubled by reports that the Israeli military has been using AI to help identify targets during its relentless bombing of densely populated areas of Gaza. 

“No part of life and death decisions which impact entire families should be delegated to the cold calculation of algorithms”, he said. AI should only be used as a force for good, not to wage war “on an industrial level, blurring accountability.” 

Branding the war “the deadliest of conflicts”, he highlighted that 196 humanitarians including over 175 UN staffers have been killed, the vast majority serving with Palestine relief agency UNRWA

“An information war has added to the trauma – obscuring facts and shifting blame”, said the UN chief, compounded by Israel denying journalists entry into Gaza, consequently allowing disinformation to spread. “Dramatic humanitarian conditions require a quantum leap in the delivery of life-saving aid – a true paradigm shift.” 

He noted last week’s Security Council resolution calling for hostages releases, civilian protection and unimpeded aid delivery.  

“All those demands must be implemented. Failure would unforgivable”, he said. 

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