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UN chief alleges violations of law in Gaza, angering Israel

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday (Oct 24) alleged violations of international law in Gaza and urged an immediate ceasefire as Israel pounds the Palestinian territory in response to Hamas attacks, with the crisis deeply dividing the Security Council.

Israel voiced anger over the UN chief’s plea before a high-level session of the Security Council, where the Palestinian foreign minister in turn denounced what he described as inaction in the conflict that has killed thousands on both sides, mostly civilians.

Opening the session, Guterres said there was no excuse for the “appalling” violence by Hamas militants on Oct 7 but also warned against “collective punishment” of the Palestinians.

“I am deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza. Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” Guterres said, without explicitly naming Israel.

Guterres said that the Palestinians had been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” telling the Security Council: “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.”

His remarks infuriated Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who, pointing his finger at Guterres and raising his voice, recounted graphic accounts of civilians including young children killed on Oct 7 in the deadliest single attack in Israeli history.

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