The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned the Israeli decision to impose a total blockade on the Gaza Strip, where more than two million Palestinians live under decades long occupation. He said the move will worsen the already dire humanitarian situation and fuel more bloodshed and hatred.
The Israeli occupation announced on Monday that it will cut off all supplies of electricity, food and fuel to Gaza, in response to the rocket attacks by Hamas and other armed groups. The blockade will also prevent any humanitarian aid from reaching the besieged enclave, where hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of wounded civilians.
Guterres said he was “deeply distressed” by the Israeli announcement, which he called a violation of international humanitarian law. He urged the Israeli occupation to respect the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people and to lift the blockade immediately.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities. Now it will only deteriorate exponentially,” Guterres said in a statement.
He also called on all parties to cease the violence and resume dialogue, saying that the current escalation did not happen “in a vacuum”.
“The reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict with a 56-year-long occupation and no political end in sight. It’s time to end this vicious cycle of bloodshed, hatred and polarization,” Guterres said.
He also appealed to the international community to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Gaza and to support the efforts of Egypt and other regional actors to broker a ceasefire.