United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said the Gaza Strip is in the midst of an "epic humanitarian catastrophe," as calls grew for a cease-fire to replace the temporary truce between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants.
"Intense negotiations are taking place to prolong the truce – which we strongly welcome - but we believe we need a true humanitarian cease-fire," Guterres said at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, chaired by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi because China is president of the 15-member council for November.
Last-minute talks continued between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas on Wednesday to extend a truce in Gaza.
"We should work for a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire with the greatest urgency," Wang told the council. "There is no firewall in Gaza, either. Resumed fighting would only, most likely, turn into a calamity that devours the whole region."
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud — standing with counterparts from Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia — told reporters at the United Nations that aid entering Gaza was "far less than is needed."
"The danger is that if ... this truce expires we will return to the killing at the scale that we have seen, which is unbearable," he said. "So we are here to make a clear statement that a truce is not enough. What is needed is a cease-fire."
Addressing the Security Council, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan accused the ministers of supporting "a terror organization that aims to annihilate Israel."
"Anyone who supports a cease-fire basically supports Hamas continued reign of terror in Gaza. Hamas is a genocidal terror organization — they don't hide it — not a reliable partner for peace," Erdan said.
Israel says Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostage in a surprise assault on Oct. 7. Israel has focused its retaliation against Hamas in Gaza, bombarding it from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground assault.
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