Palestinians in impoverished coastal territory braced for a massive Israeli ground attack aiming to defeat Hamas

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his distress Monday over the brutal siege of the Gaza Strip by occupied Israeli forces, after suffering a considerable blow by Palestinian resistance group Hamas Saturday.

The UN chief, while speaking to the journalists said that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities,” adding that “now it will only deteriorate exponentially.”

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant earlier the day said that his country would impose a “complete siege” on the long blockaded enclave and stressed what this meant for its 2.3 million people.

“No electricity, no food, no water, no gas — it’s all closed,” the minister said while imposing the blockade.

Palestinians in the impoverished coastal territory braced for what many feared would be a massive Israeli ground attack aiming to defeat Hamas and liberate hostages.

“This most recent violence does not come in a vacuum,” Guterres stressed, adding that “the reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year-long occupation and no political end in sight.”

A plume of smoke rises in the sky of Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike on October 9, 2023. — AFP
A plume of smoke rises in the sky of Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike on October 9, 2023. — AFP

“While I recognise Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I also remind Israel that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law,” Guterres said.

Following Hamas’ unprecedented ground, air and sea attacks, Israel has counted over 800 dead and launched a withering barrage of strikes on Gaza that have raised the number of martyrs to 687.

Israel, which has long prided itself on a high-tech military and intelligence edge in its many conflicts, has been shaken to the core by Hamas’ surprise attack.

Hamas surged into Israeli towns Saturday, entering into military bases and taking over 100 hostages.

The situation has only escalated since then, prompting Israel’s promise Monday to cut off supplies to the region.

“I am deeply distressed by today’s announcement that Israel will initiate a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, nothing allowed in — no electricity, food, or fuel,” Guterres said.

The UN will continue efforts to provide aid to respond to needs in Gaza, Guterres said.

“Israel must see its legitimate needs for security materialised — and Palestinians must see a clear perspective for the establishment of their own state realised,” Guterres added.

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