Advertisement

'The choice is clear - surge or starvation': UN chief condemns blocked aid to Gaza on Ramadan visit

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has denounced aid being blocked from entering Gaza, describing the imminent risk of starvation as a "moral outrage".

"It's time to truly flood Gaza with life-saving aid. The choice is clear: either surge or starvation," Mr Guterres said on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border.

Almost half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are facing catastrophic food insecurity, with a risk of famine by the end of May if a ceasefire does not happen or if there is no sustained access to aid, according to a UN-backed report.

The UN secretary-general stood beside a long queue of trucks that international aid agencies and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron have blamed on Israel. They claim some supplies have been stuck at the border for nearly three weeks.

Mr Guterres also renewed calls for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" - after more than 32,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel's military offensive, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

In a statement, the UN head said it was time to "silence the guns" as Gazans "remain stuck in a non-stop nightmare".

He added: "Communities obliterated. Homes demolished. Entire families and generations wiped out. With hunger and starvation stalking the population. Any further onslaught will make everything worse."

Asked about Mr Guterres's concerns, Mr Netanyahu's office referred to a social media post by foreign minister Israel Katz, who accused the UN chief of allowing the organisation to become "antisemitic and anti-Israeli".

Mr Guterres's visit to the territory comes during Ramadan, with him demanding the immediate release of all Israeli hostages in the holy month's "spirit of compassion".

Netanyahu presses on with Rafah offensive

Hamas is still thought to be holding around 100 Israeli hostages, having already killed several since the 7 October attacks - during which 1,200 Israelis were killed.

It recently proposed a deal for a ceasefire, offering Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored Western concerns that an assault on Rafah, currently home to an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians, would "further isolate" his nation.

He said he made it "supremely clear" to US President Joe Biden he intended to go ahead with the offensive, believing Hamas's remaining battalions are hiding there.

Read more:
Israeli spokesperson suspended after reports of row with Foreign Office
Children among more than 100 killed by gunmen in Moscow massacre

Eight people were killed on Friday in an airstrike on a house in Al Naser, east of Rafah. And fighting raged on Saturday around Gaza's largest hospital, Shifa.

The Israel Defence Forces said it had killed more than 170 militants in the hospital since they began their raid five days ago, but Palestinian authorities described it as a "war crime" that led to multiple casualties.

Gaza's health ministry said hospital departments had been set alight with patients still inside, adding that the Israeli military had detained health workers, patients and relatives inside the complex.