The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, denounced this Tuesday before the Security Council the "clear violations of humanitarian law" in Gaza, unleashing the wrath of Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
"No party to a conflict is above international humanitarian law," said Guterres, after recalling that even war "has rules."
The UN chief condemned the Islamist group Hamas for the October 7 attack in Israeli territory that left 1,400 dead, most of them civilians, but at the same time said that "it is important to recognize" that these attacks "did not occur in a vacuum." ».
Subject to “56 years of suffocating occupation,” the Palestinian population “has seen their land endlessly devoured by settlements and ravaged by violence; its economy, suffocated; its population, displaced and its homes, demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their difficult situation have been fading,” Guterres recalled before a crowded, and divided, high-level Security Council.
"Mr. Secretary General, what world do you live in?" snapped Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, after recalling that Israel "not only has the right to defend itself, we also have the duty to do so."
"Without a doubt, it is not ours," it was answered, after showing photos of Hamas attacks against civilians. In a statement to the press, accompanied by relatives of some of the 200 hostages that Hamas captured, he assured that he had canceled the planned meeting he had with Guterres.
– «2 billion Arabs and Muslims» –
For the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al Maliki, the inaction of the Security Council, which has not managed to approve any resolution since 2016 on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, is "unforgivable."
"Isn't your human conscience wounded by the crimes of the Israeli occupation during 56 years of colonial occupation, or by the terrorist murders, destruction and hunger to which the Palestinian population is subjected today?" he expressed.
The Security Council should adopt "a clear position to reassure the two billion Arabs and Muslims that international law will prevail" and work towards a "true peace process" based on the "two-state" solution, he recalled. for his part, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
Last week, the Security Council failed to agree on either of the two resolution texts that were on the table, proposed by Russia and Brazil. The first did not mention Hamas, and the second did not recognize Israel's right to defend itself and was vetoed by the United States.
A third text, drafted by the Americans, circulates among member states, in which it states, "the right of all States to individual or collective self-defense."
But the Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, recalled that the American text does not contain any "call for a quick and unconditional ceasefire" in the conflict, so his country, with the right to veto, "will not support it."
The Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira, whose country, as president of the organization, organized this debate, recalled that "civilians must be respected and protected at all times and in all places" and stressed that all military operations must "respect the principles of distinction, proportionality, humanity, necessity and precaution.
His Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry asked "what right (to self-defense) justifies not distinguishing between an enemy to be killed and unarmed civilians?"
– Humanitarian ceasefire –
The UN chief also demanded an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" to alleviate the "epic suffering" of the Gaza population and "without restrictions."
UN fuel supplies in Gaza "will run out in a matter of days", which would be "another disaster" because without fuel, aid cannot be delivered, hospitals have no electricity and drinking water cannot be purified or pumped, he remembered.
Since the Hamas attacks, the Israeli Ministry of Defense decreed the blockade of all entry of goods, including the cutting of electricity, water, food and fuel, and bombed the territory, causing, according to Gazan authorities, the death of more than 5,000 people, including more than 2,000 children, and the destruction of 42% of homes, as well as numerous infrastructures.
About 1.4 million people have been displaced in the small territory, recalled Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
"The risk of a significant deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Territories or the spread of conflict in the region remains significant," warned Tor Wennesland, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, after recalling that violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, "has increased since the outbreak of the war."
A meeting of the UN General Assembly is scheduled for Thursday to debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although at the moment it is not expected that any resolution will be voted on that would not, in any case, be binding.