UN officials described Gaza as “hell on earth” where “a child is killed every 10 minutes”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “far too many” Palestinians have died in Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, as he urged West Jerusalem to minimize civilian deaths and suffering.
“Much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them,” the top US diplomat told reporters in New Delhi on Friday, as he wrapped up his diplomatic tour of the Middle East and Asia. “Far too many Palestinians have been killed, far too many have suffered these past weeks, and we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximize the assistance that gets to them.”
The US has been trying to convince Israel to introduce longer “humanitarian pauses,” and has come up with additional proposals on how to better protect civilians, although Blinken did not elaborate on those discussions.
The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza has exceeded 11,000 people, including 4,506 children and 3,027 women, the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave said on Friday. According to its latest data, some 27,490 others were wounded during more than a month of bombardment by the IDF.
Blinken reiterated Washington’s unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and support for Israel’s right to defend itself. However, French President Emmanuel Macron argued on Friday that self-defense was “no justification” for the scale of the bombing and civilian suffering in Gaza.
“De facto – today, civilians are bombed – de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop,” Macron told the BBC, insisting that “it’s important for the mid-to-long run as well for the security of Israel itself, to recognise that all lives matter.”
“On average, a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council on Friday, describing the Palestinian enclave’s healthcare system as being “on its knees.”
“Nowhere and no one is safe,” he said. “Hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick, the dying. Morgues overflowing. Surgery without anesthesia. Tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering at hospitals.”
“If there is a hell on earth, it is the north of Gaza,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva.
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