Israel-Gaza war: Major UN agencies call for immediate humanitarian ceasefire

30 days into the conflict, and major UN agency chiefs call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Since 7 October Israeli forces have launched thousands of air bombardments in the Gaza Strip
Since 7 October Israeli forces have launched thousands of air bombardments in the Gaza Strip

Leaders from several major UN agencies have released a rare joint statement calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

“For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiralling numbers of lives lost and torn apart,” the UN chiefs said.

The signatories to the statement include the heads of UNICEF, the WHO, the OHCHR and chiefs of NGOs including Save the Children.

In their statement, they say the killing of civilians in Gaza is an “outrage”, with 2.2 million Palestinians cut off from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel.

“An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable.”

They noted that 88 UNRWA colleagues were killed since October 7, “the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict”.

“We renew our plea for the parties to respect all their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. We renew our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians held hostage.”

It has been 30 days since Hamas breached the Israel-Gaza border fence and killed around 1,400 people while taking a further 200 people hostage.

But since then, Israel launched a massive offensive in Gaza. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over 9,700 people since October 7.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken is holding talks in the area, having met leaders and ministers in the occupied West Bank, Jordan and Iraq.

His latest stop is Ankara, Turkey, where he is meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan behind closed doors.