“Unfortunately, instead of a pause, I was surprised by an unprecedented escalation of bombings and their devastating effects, compromising humanitarian objectives,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this Saturday from Doha ( Qatar), in its first reaction to the night of intense bombings and incursion by the Israeli army into the Gaza Strip. “The situation must be reversed. I reiterate my urgent call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of the hostages and the distribution of humanitarian aid,” he said. “A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes.”
Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office in its capital Doha and has provided millions of dollars in financial aid to Gaza, is linked to efforts to mediate a prisoner exchange between the Palestinian terror movement which controls the Gaza Strip and Israel. Antonio Guterres met this Saturday in Doha with the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Thani, who “underlined the total rejection of the State of Qatar of the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip and the attempts at forced displacement of its population,” according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He also warned of “the danger of a ground escalation... for the safety of civilians and hostages in Gaza.” According to the latest assessment by the Israeli authorities, around 230 hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack are being held in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory in the hands of Hamas. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since this attack of unprecedented scale carried out by Hamas militiamen.
The Hamas Health Ministry announced on Saturday that 7,703 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war with Israel, including more than 3,500 children. The latest report communicated on Friday showed 7,326 deaths. A report which could not be confirmed independently.