UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES — The heads of all major UN agencies issued a rare joint statement Sunday expressing outrage at the civilian death toll in Gaza and calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the war between Israel and Hamas.
“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 heads of 18 organizations including UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization described the horrific toll on both sides since the October 7 Hamas cross-border attack from Gaza into Israel, which left about 1,400 people dead, mainly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel has retaliated with relentless air and artillery strikes that have killed at least 9,770 people, also mostly civilians, says the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
In Gaza, the UN statement said, “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.”
It called on Hamas to release the more than 240 hostages it took in its attack, and urged both sides to respect their obligations under international law as the war rages on.
The UN leaders said more food, water, medicine and fuel must be allowed into Gaza to help its besieged population as Israel attacks with the stated goal of destroying Hamas.
“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now,” the statement said.
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