António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, speaks to the press on the situation in the Middle East during a press conference at the United Nations in New York, New York, USA, 13 October 2023. EFE/EPA/SARAH YENESEL

Guterres says situation in Gaza has reached ‘new dangerous low’

United Nations, Oct 13 (EFE).- UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Friday that the situation in Gaza has “reached a dangerous new low” after Israeli authorities gave residents an ultimatum to leave the northern Strip for their safety.

“Moving more than 1 million people across a densely populated war zone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous — and, in some cases, is simply not possible,” Guterres said before the Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The Portuguese politician recalled that hospitals in the south of the Gaza Strip have already reached their limits and will not be able to receive thousands of patients from the north.

Guterres reiterated to the Security Council his call for Israel to at least allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, which has been completely blocked since the conflict with the Islamist group Hamas began six days ago.

The UN also warned on Friday that its teams in the Gaza Strip had reached the “end of the barrel” in terms of supplies, and reiterated its call on Israeli authorities to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

“We need immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza so that we can get fuel, food and water to everyone in need,” he said, adding that the blockaded enclave’s health system was on the verge of collapse.

Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, also said that some 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza have difficulty accessing basic health services.

UNWRA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, also reported that at least 12 of its workers have been killed in Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip since the war between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas began six days ago.

The United Kingdom’s representative to the UN, Barbara Woodward, also spoke upon her arrival at the Council, saying that her country’s priorities at the moment were to prevent the conflict from spreading to other parts of the region, to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Shortly thereafter, representatives of all Arab countries at the UN presented a united front, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to allow humanitarian access.

“For those who think that there is a single Arab, a single diplomat that is not standing with Palestine at this time, look at our unity, look at our strength,” said Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour.

Mansour said the Arab group would meet with Guterres after the Security Council meeting to ask him to help in their efforts to reach a cease-fire in the region and to avoid “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians in the area.

Hospital evacuation order

Israel has given Doctors without Borders (MSF) eight hours to evacuate Al Awda hospital in Gaza City, the humanitarian organization reported, after the army ordered the evacuation of 1.1 million Gazans from northern Gaza to the south on Friday.

The announcement comes nearly two hours after Israeli forces gave the hospital a deadline of just two hours, the NGO said on its X (formerly Twitter) account.

“Israeli forces have now postponed the demand to evacuate Al Awda hospital in the Gaza Strip until 6am. The evacuation of patients remains complicated,” MSF said.

A deadline of almost eight hours that is still difficult to meet in conditions with a huge number of wounded from the bombings, fuel shortages and continuous airstrikes, even on the roads that allow movement to the south.

According to Israel, many of the military operations from the enclave are carried out from Gaza City, a place with nearly 600,000 inhabitants, where civilians must now leave “for their own safety” and “where they will be able to return only when another announcement allows it,” said a military spokesman.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza after seven days of war is extremely precarious, hospitals are overflowing and the number of displaced people is in the hundreds of thousands, while the ferocious Israeli bombardments on the enclave do not stop and have caused serious damage to the civilian infrastructure.

The death toll in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 1,800, with more than 6,600 injured. EFE