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UN sec-gen: “We are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called yesterday for Israel to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and for Hamas to release all hostages unconditionally. He says the Middle East is on the “verge of an abyss”.

Antonio Guterres noted in his statement:

Gaza is running out of water, electricity and other essential supplies. UN stocks of food, water, medical supplies and fuel in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and Israel can be dispatched within hours. Staff need to be able to bring these supplies into and throughout Gaza safely, and without impediment.

He also called for Hamas to release hostages “immediately” and “without conditions.” Guterres said, who claimed it was his duty to make both appeals “in this dramatic moment, as we are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East:”

Each one of these two objectives are valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips and they must be implemented because it is the right thing to do.

Israel formally declared war on Hamas last week after militant squads of the group breached the Israeli border and shot, stabbed and burned more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Israel has cut off the supply of water, food and electricity to the Gaza region, thereby declaring a total siege of the region. The Israeli army has also launched regular airstrikes in the region, killing at least 2,670 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them ordinary Palestinians. In total, about 2.4 million people live in Gaza.

The Israeli army, ahead of an expected ground offensive, has called on Gaza civilians to flee south to safety. The region is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, with more than a million people displaced from their homes and Palestinians complaining of water shortages. According to the Israeli army, Hamas are holding 155 people hostage.

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