Calls for Israel-Hamas ceasefire grow as UN chief warns situation in Gaza 'worsening by the hour'

24 October 2023, 18:46

Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have continued to grow
Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have continued to grow. Picture: Getty/Alamy/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are continuing to grow, with the United Nations' chief Antonio Guterres warning the situation in Gaza is "worsening by the hour".

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Israel has so far rejected calls for a ceasefire, as it continues to insist it is preparing to 'wipe out' Hamas in a ground invasion after a terrorist attack killed 1,400 Israelis earlier this month.

The United States and United Kingdom have both publicly supported Israel's right to defend itself, rejecting pleas to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

But the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken came close to calling for a ceasefire on Tuesday when he said "humanitarian pauses" must be considered in order to allow civilians to "get out of harm's" way.

Meanwhile, UN chief Guterres said he was "deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza" as he called for a ceasefire.

"To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire," the UN chief said on Tuesday,

It comes as Israel continues its retaliatory bombardment campaign against Hamas in Gaza, with the Hamas-run health ministry says almost 5,800 people have been killed since 7 October.

Israel has continued its bombardment campaign in Gaza following Hamas' attack on October 7
Israel has continued its bombardment campaign in Gaza following Hamas' attack on October 7. Picture: Getty
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) speaks with UN Secretary General António Guterres (R)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) speaks with UN Secretary General António Guterres (R). Picture: Getty

Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have also continued to grow in the UK, with around 70 MPs urging the government to call for the fighting to stop.

Life peer, former chairwoman of the Conservative Party and chairwoman of the Conservative Friends of Palestine backed the calls when speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr on Tuesday.

She said told LBC that Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have got themselves into a position where they are "blindly supporting Israel" and would struggle to call for a ceasefire.

Baroness Warsi speaks to LBC's Andrew Marr

Guterres prompted fury from Israel at the UN Security Council meeting in New York as he said Hamas' attack on Israel "did not happen in a vacuum".

"The Palestinian people been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their lands steadily devolved by settlements and plagued by violence. Their economy stifled. Their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing," he said.

Guterres added: "The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas and those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

Israel responded furiously to the UN chief's comments, calling on him to resign.

Read More: Six Brits still missing after Hamas attack, minister reveals after two Israeli hostages are freed

Read More: Cousin of man being held hostage by Hamas calls for ceasefire, as he accuses Israeli government of ‘failing' its people

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said: "There is no justification or point in talking to those who show understanding for the most terrible acts committed against the citizens of Israel — no less by a declared terrorist organisation".

On Twitter, the ambassador said: "I call on [Guterres] to resign immediately."

Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire as it continues its retaliatory bombardment campaign against Hamas in Gaza (stock image)
Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire as it continues its retaliatory bombardment campaign against Hamas in Gaza (stock image). Picture: Getty

It comes amid fears the conflict between Israel and Hamas could spill into other parts of the Middle East, a warning reiterated by the Secretary of State Blinken.

"Don't throw fuel on the fire," Blinken said, as he warned Iran that the US would respond "decisively" to an attack.

"Make no mistake, we will defend our people, we will defend our security swiftly and decisively."

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