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Guterres ‘horrified’ by strike on ambulance convoy in Gaza

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. (file)
UN Photo/Mark Garten
UN Secretary-General António Guterres. (file)

Guterres ‘horrified’ by strike on ambulance convoy in Gaza

Peace and Security

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “horrified” by a strike on an ambulance convoy outside a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Friday, reiterating his appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire.

According to reports, at Al Shifa Hospital, the ambulances were evacuating critically injured and sick patients to hospitals in the south of the Gaza Strip when they were struck at the entrance of the hospital.

“I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa Hospital. The images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital are harrowing,” the UN chief said in a statement, issued late on Friday New York time.

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He stated that he did not forget the terror attacks committed in Israel by Hamas and the killing, maiming and abductions, including of women and children. He stressed that all hostages held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Mr. Guterres added that for nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes.

“This must stop,” he stressed.

Nowhere is safe

Mr. Guterres further noted that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “horrific”.

“Not nearly enough food, water and medicine are coming in to meet people’s needs. Fuel to power hospitals and water plants is running out,” he said, noting that shelters by the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) were at nearly four times their full capacity “and are being hit in bombardments”.

“Morgues are overflowing. Shops are empty. The sanitation situation is abysmal. We are seeing an increase in diseases and respiratory illnesses, especially among children. An entire population is traumatized. Nowhere is safe.”

Respect humanitarian law

Renewing his appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire, the Secretary-General underscored that international humanitarian law must be respected.

“Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian and medical workers and assets must be protected. Civilians must also not be used as human shields,” he said, urging also that essential supplies and services, and unimpeded humanitarian access must be safely allowed into and across Gaza “at a scale commensurate with this dramatic situation”. 
The UN chief underscored, “all those with influence must exert it to ensure respect for the rules of war, end the suffering and avoid a spillover of the conflict that could engulf the whole region.”

WHO: ‘Utterly shocked’

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The head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said he was “utterly shocked” by the strike on the ambulances.

“Utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients close to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza, leading to deaths, injuries and damage,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“We reiterate: patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times, always,” he stressed.

In a separate statement, the agency also said that attacks on healthcare, including the targeting of hospitals and restricting the delivery of essential aid such as medical supplies, fuel, and water, may amount to violations of international humanitarian law.

“WHO reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire, emphasizing the urgent need to protect all health workers, patients, health transport, and health facilities,” WHO said.

UNRWA school struck

UNRWA said that one of its schools in the Jabalia refugee camp was impacted by strikes Saturday morning (local time), resulting in the reported deaths of 20 people, including children.

“At least one strike hit the school yard where there were tents for displaced families. Another strike hit inside the school where women were baking bread,” the agency said.

Dozens more are reported injured, UNRWA added, noting that it has not been able to verify the exact number of casualties.

The school is being used as an UNRWA shelter for displaced families, the agency said, adding that until 12 October, about 16,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) were seeking refuge there.