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Israel Must Allow ‘Quantum Leap’ In Aid Delivery UN Chief Urges, Calling For Change In Military Tactics


Israel must make meaningful changes in the way it
is fighting in Gaza to avoid civilian casualties while also
undergoing “a true paradigm shift” in lifesaving aid
delivery, the UN chief said on
Friday.

Marking six months of war since the
“abhorrent” Hamas-led terror attacks of 7 October,
António Guterres told
journalists
at UN Headquarters in New York that nothing
could justify the horror unleashed by Palestinian militants
that day.

“I once again utterly condemn the use of
sexual violence, torture injuring and kidnapping of
civilians, the firing of rockets towards civilian targets
and the use of human shields”, he said, calling again for
the unconditional release of all hostages still being held
in the Gaza Strip.

Having met many of the family
members of those held captive “I carry their anguish,
uncertainty and deep pain with me every day”, added Mr.
Guterres.

‘Relentless death’

But the past
six months of Israel’s military campaign has also brought
“relentless death and destruction to Palestinians”, with
over 32,000 reported killed, the vast majority women and
children.

“Lives are shattered. Respect for
international law is in tatters
”, he
said.

The resulting humanitarian disaster is
unprecedented, with more than a million “facing
catastrophic hunger.”

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Children are dying due to lack
of food and water: “This is incomprehensible and
entirely avoidable”, the UN chief
declared, repeating that nothing can justify such collective
punishment.

Weaponized AI

Mr. Guterres said he
was deeply troubled by reports that the Israeli military has
been using AI to help identify targets during its relentless
bombing of densely populated areas of
Gaza.

No part of life and death decisions
which impact entire families should be delegated to the cold
calculation of algorithms
”, he said.

AI
should only be used as a force for good, not to wage war
“on an industrial level, blurring
accountability.”

Humanitarian
deaths

Branding the war “the deadliest of
conflicts
”, he highlighted that 196 humanitarians
including over 175 UN staffers have been killed, the vast
majority serving with Palestine relief agency UNRWA.

“An
information war has added to the trauma – obscuring facts
and shifting blame”, said the UN chief, compounded by
Israel denying journalists entry into Gaza, consequently
allowing disinformation to spread.

Tactics must
change

And following the
appalling killing
of the seven staffers with World
Central Kitchen, the main problem is not who made
the mistakes but “the military strategy and procedures in
place that allow for those mistakes to multiply

time and time again”, the Secretary-General
said.

Fixing those failures requires
independent investigations and meaningful and measurable
changes on the ground
.”

He said the UN had
been told by the Israeli Government that it was now planning
to allow a “meaningful increase” in the flow of aid to
Gaza. The UN chief said he sincerely hoped the increase in
aid would materialize quickly.

‘Failure would be
unforgivable’

“Dramatic humanitarian conditions
require a quantum leap in the delivery of life-saving aid
– a true paradigm shift.”

He noted last week’s
Security
Council resolution
calling for hostages releases,
civilian protection and unimpeded aid delivery.

“All
those demands must be implemented. Failure would
unforgivable
”, he said.

Six months on, the
world stands on the brink of mass starvation in Gaza, a
regional conflagration and a “total loss of faith in
global standards and norms.”

Unprecedented
violations: UN rights office

The violations committed
since 7 October in Israel and Gaza, as well as the
destruction and suffering of civilians in the enclave are
unprecedented, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said
on Friday, warning that the risk of further atrocity crimes
is high.

OHCHR upheld the need to ensure aid delivery
and the protection of humanitarian workers, noting that
attacks against them may amount to war crimes.

The
Israeli airstrikes that killed the World Central Kitchen
personnel underline the horrific conditions under which
humanitarians are operating in Gaza, said Spokesperson
Jeremy Laurence told journalists in
Geneva.

Israel has also killed law
enforcement officials and others involved in securing
humanitarian aid delivery
, directly contributing to
the breakdown of civil order and putting humanitarian
workers and those in need of aid in further danger,” he
added.

Following the attacks, World Central Kitchen
and other NGOs suspended aid delivery and distributions in
Gaza, “increasing the already real risk of more deaths
from famine and disease at larger scale.”

War
crimes warning

Mr. Laurence recalled that
international law requires all warring parties to respect
and protect humanitarian personnel and ensure their safety,
security, and freedom of movement.

As the occupying
power, Israel has the additional obligation to
ensure, to the fullest extent possible, that the basic needs
of Gaza’s population are met
. This means the
authorities must either ensure that people can access food
and medical care or facilitate the work of humanitarians
delivering this assistance.

“Attacking people or
objects involved in humanitarian assistance may
amount to a war crime
,” he said.

He pointed
out that UN Human Rights High Commissioner Volker Türk has
repeatedly stated that impunity must
end.

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