United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the “heart-breaking” and “utterly unacceptable” killings of Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Sunday, as the number of deaths from Israeli strikes in the enclave surpassed 25,000.
“Israel’s military operations have spread massive destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary-general,” Guterres said at the opening of a summit of the G77+China in Uganda. He renewed calls for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire to relieve the suffering in Gaza, allow humanitarian aid to reach everyone in need, and facilitate the release of hostages, which should be immediate and unconditional.”
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks has risen above 25,000, while more than 60,000 have been wounded since the surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, in which Israeli officials say more than 1,200 nationals and foreigners were killed and 240 taken hostage.
Guterres also said on Sunday that the refusal to take steps toward a two-state solution in the Mideast is “totally unacceptable.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected a two-state solution, most recently last week in response to U.S. pressure. Israeli officials on Saturday pushed back strongly against remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden that a two-state solution may still be possible even while Netanyahu is in power.
Guterres said on Sunday that the “denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security.”
The EU has also been putting pressure on Israel to find a way to end the conflict in the Gaza Strip. The European Parliament called last week for a “permanent cease-fire” in Gaza, upon the condition that Hamas releases the hostages it took in the October attacks as well as the full demilitarization of Gaza.
“The only solution is to create two states that share the land for which they have been dying for 100 years,” the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Friday, openly accusing Israel of having funded Hamas. The EU, meanwhile, is set to announce Monday new sanctions to hit the militant group’s financing.