'This must stop', says Guterres over spiralling deaths in Gaza

by IANS |

United Nations, Nov 20 (IANS) In response to the spiraling deaths in Gaza amid the raging Israel-Hamas war, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reiterated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the besieged enclave.


"This war is having a staggering and unacceptable number of civilian casualties, including women and children, every day," Xinhua news agency quoted the UN chief as saying in a statement on Sunday.


"This must stop. I reiterate my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire," he added.


Since Oct. 7, over 11,000 individuals have lost their lives in the beleaguered region of Gaza.


Spikes in casualties, attacks on schools and shelters, including the death of a UN worker, and crippling fuel shortages blocking aid deliveries rippled across Gaza over the weekend, as the World Health Organization helped to evacuate 31 babies in critical condition at the besieged Al-Shifa Hospital.


"I am deeply shocked that two UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) schools were struck in less than 24 hours in Gaza.


"Dozens of people -- many women and children -- were killed and injured as they were seeking safety in United Nations premises," the Secretary-General said.


He added that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are seeking shelter at UN facilities throughout Gaza due to the intensified fighting.


"I reaffirm that our premises are inviolable," the UN chief asserted.


As of Monday, the death toll in Gaza stood at 11,078, of which 4,506 were said to be children and 3,027 women.


About 2,700 others, including some 1,500 children, have been reported missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble, awaiting rescue or recovery.


Another 27,490 Palestinians have reportedly been injured.


Since the war erupted on October 7, more than 1.7 million people in Gaza are estimated to be internally displaced, including almost 900,000 who are staying in at least 154 UNRWA shelters.


In Israel, authorities said that more than 1,200 people have died, which include Israeli and foreign nationals.


Till date, the names of 1,162 fatalities in Israel have been released, including 859 civilians and police officers.


Of those whose ages have been provided, 33 are children.


Meanwhile, 237 people are held captive in Gaza, including Israelis and foreign nationals.


So far, four civilian hostages have been released by Hamas, one Israeli soldier was rescued by Israeli forces, and three bodies of hostages have reportedly been retrieved by Israeli forces.


In the West Bank, the death toll has reached 212.

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