United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres talks to the media in Kathmandu, Nepal, 29 October 2023. EFE/EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

Guterres reiterates that humanitarian laws of war ‘are not an a la carte menu’

United Nations, Oct 31 (EFE).- The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, released a statement on Tuesday saying he was “deeply alarmed by the intensification of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza”.

Guterres, who is traveling in Nepal, expressed his alarm at the course of the war in Gaza, on which he again called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” something the Israeli government has so far refused, likening it to a “surrender to barbarism.

The Secretary-General said that international humanitarian law “establishes clear rules that cannot be ignored. It is not an a la carte menu and cannot be applied selectively.”

And that “all parties must abide by it, including the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution.”

These are the three guiding principles of humanitarian law, which governs the conduct of war.

The principle of distinction requires that parties differentiate at all times between civilians and civilian objects and combatants and military objectives, and never intentionally target the first category. Indiscriminate attacks are also prohibited.

The principle of proportionality requires that the anticipated collateral damage of a military operation should not be excessive in relation to the likely military advantage to be gained.

And the principle of precaution requires that parties to a conflict take steps to minimize harm to civilians. }

“Civilians have borne the brunt of the current fighting from the outset,” the Secretary-General said in the statement.

Guterres condemned “acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas,” called for the “immediate and unconditional release of those civilians held hostage by Hamas,” and condemned “the killing of civilians in Gaza,” citing a UN report that said two-thirds of those killed were women and children.

He also said “I mourn and honor the United Nations colleagues tragically killed in the bombardment of Gaza.”

Humanitarian aid

The secretary-general further criticized Israel for the level of humanitarian aid it has allowed into Gaza so far, saying it is “completely inadequate and not commensurate with the needs of people, compounding the humanitarian tragedy.”

According to the United Nations, before the war between Israel and Hamas began, some 500 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza every day under the Israeli siege, while an average of 12 have entered in the past week.

Guterres reiterated a call “for unimpeded humanitarian access to be granted consistently, safely and to scale in order to meet the urgent needs created by the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.” EFE