The Gaza conflict has brought regional pressures to a boil, Antonio Guterres has said
The current instability in the Middle East may soon spiral completely out of control, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a press conference in New York on Monday.
Guterres once again addressed the ongoing crisis, triggered by the events of October 7, when Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage. The following Israeli blockade, bombing and ground assault of Gaza has since killed almost 24,000 people, according to local health officials.
The civilian death toll in Gaza has caused widespread international condemnation of Israel’s actions, and has already drawn Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthis into the conflict.
“Tensions are also sky-high in the Red Sea and beyond – and may soon be impossible to contain,” Guterres described, stating that he is concerned that “daily exchanges of fire” risk “triggering a broader escalation between Israel and Lebanon and profoundly affecting regional stability.”
While the UN Secretary-General condemned the actions of Hamas, he also blasted Israel’s operation as a “collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” He said that it has caused an “unprecedented level of civilian casualties,” while noting that “the vast majority of those killed are women and children.”
Last week, the Houthis pledged to continue targeting Israel- and US-linked ships in the Red Sea “until the siege on Gaza is lifted.” The Houthis have also targeted British and American warships operating in the area as part of the international maritime operation organized last month by the US to guard shipping in the region. The “heightening tensions” have also led Iran to send one of their warships to the Red Sea earlier this month.
US and UK warplanes attacked Houthi targets in Yemen with around 70 airstrikes last Thursday and Friday. While US National Security spokesman John Kirby described the strikes being carried out to “good effect,” a New York Times report claimed that around three quarters of the Houthi military assets remained intact.
Meanwhile, Moscow condemned the strikes on Yemen as “illegal,” noting they were carried out in violation of the UN Charter.
The UN Secretary-General believes that “the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation.”
January 16, 2024 at 09:12AM