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Gaza genocide: Antonio Guterres invokes Article 99 of UN Charter

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Picture: Eye on Palestine / Taken on December 6, 2023 – Palestinians bid farewell to their relatives on Wednesday, December 6. The UN and other aid groups warned of the grave humanitarian crisis, with virtually no safe places for civilians and medical supplies running critically low.

By Peoples Dispatch

For the first time in his tenure, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter which allows the SG to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” Guterres sent a letter to Jose Javier de la Gasca Lopez Domínguez, President of the Security Council, invoking the article, to call the attention of the UNSC to the situation in Gaza.

He highlighted that there is no protection for civilians in Gaza from airstrikes, that the conditions that the over 1.9 million displaced people are subjected to in UNRWA facilities are “overcrowded, undignified, and unhygienic”, and that the healthcare system in Gaza is collapsing due to Israeli attacks and a lack of supplies and fuel. Guterres also pointed out that 130 UNRWA workers have been killed in the last two months, the highest number of UN aid workers killed in any conflict in the body’s history.

The SG warned that, “Amid constant bombardment by the Israeli Defence Forces, and without shelter or tile essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible. An even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighbouring countries.”

Guterres made an urgent appeal to the international community to “use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis”. He called on the Security Council to “press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” and reiterated his appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire. He added: “[The ceasefire] is urgent. The civilian population must be spared from greater harm. With a humanitarian ceasefire, the means of survival can be restored, and humanitarian assistance can be delivered in a safe and timely manner across the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s killing spree continues

The death toll in Gaza breached the 16,000 mark on Wednesday, December 6, as the genocidal Israeli assault continued for the 61st consecutive day. Latest statistics from the Palestinian Ministry of Health stated that the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza has risen to 16,250, including 7,112 children and 4,885 women.

Close to 44,000 have been injured and at least 7,600 are reported missing and feared to be trapped under the rubble. The efforts of the rescue teams to find those who are trapped have been severely restricted due to continuous Israeli airstrikes and the lack of proper equipment.

Meanwhile, fresh airstrikes and artillery shelling on the ground continued in various parts of Gaza by the Israeli military. Areas such as Khan Younis, Deir al-Balah, the Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza City, and the Jabalia refugee camp were targeted by Israeli forces in the last several days.

Tens of thousands of more Palestinian civilians have also been displaced, with the total number of internally displaced Palestinian civilians reaching 1.9 million, according to the United Nations.

In addition to the warnings from different UN bodies, agencies, and spokespersons, other international aid agencies and medical charities have raised alarm over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Doctors Without Borders wrote in a statement that the MSF-supported hospitals are “barely able to cope with the influx of patients”. The international medical charity condemned Israel’s constant bombing and reported that “tight movement restrictions, imposed by the Israeli forces and ongoing heavy shelling and bombing, prevent people from seeking medical help in time while also hindering our teams’ capacity to respond”.

Chris Hook, MSF medical co-ordinator in Khan Younis, stated: “In a military campaign that has lasted weeks, with only a brief respite, the speed and scale of the bombing continue to plumb the depths of brutality … Almost two million people are left without options. The only solution is an immediate and sustained ceasefire and the unrestricted supply of aid to the entirety of the Gaza strip.”

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli Occupation Forces have continued their killing spree during nighttime raids. The city of Tulkarm was under Israeli siege in the early hours of Thursday December 7, with raids also registered outside the cities of Jenin and Nablus.

At least 50 Palestinians have also been arrested in the raids over the last day.

The total number of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank since Israel launched its war on Gaza on October 7 has risen to 265, with more than 3,600 injured and more than 3,500 arrested.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch