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The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, stressed on Monday that achieving a cease-fire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza is “a matter of life and death for millions.” Lazzarini also criticized Israel for executing “collective punishment” on Palestinians, leading to civilian displacement.
Highlighting the urgent need for humanitarian intervention, the UN passed a resolution on Saturday in support of a cease-fire, with a vote tally of 120-14. The US, however, was among the 14 nations opposing the measure.
Lazzarini raised alarms about the deteriorating civil order in Gaza, pointing to an incident where Palestinians raided a UN warehouse in their search for essentials like food and water. 64 UN agency staff members have lost their lives in the conflict, including the agency’s head of security, who died in an Israeli strike.
Echoing the sentiments of many, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire” and raised concerns over violations of international humanitarian law.
The initial spark of the conflict was a sudden attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, leading to over 1,400 Israeli casualties. In retaliation, Israeli actions have reportedly resulted in the deaths of around 8,500 Palestinians, including a significant number of children. While the US has expressed skepticism regarding these figures presented by Hamas, the UN has largely validated them.