Gaza is becoming 'graveyard for children', says UN chief as Israel troops advance

How many more stages are planned is unclear as Israeli military forces target the northern sector of Gaza, reports ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

  • United Nations Secretary General António Guterres is calling for $1.2 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to help people caught in the crossfire of the conflict in Gaza as well as in the West Bank.

  • Over the past four weeks, some 10,022 Palestinians have died - most of them women and children - and the Israeli death toll stands at 1,400, according to their respective health ministries.

  • Telecommunications have been restored after being cut in Gaza for a third time as the Israeli military announced it has Gaza City surrounded.

  • Dozens of people were killed and injured in a blast at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to a hospital official and the Gaza Health Ministry, in what they claim was an Israeli airstrike.

  • The Rafah crossing remains closed to foreign nationals attempting to flee Gaza City. Many UK nationals are reported to have been turned away and others face leaving without family members.

Gaza is becoming a "graveyard for children," the United Nations Secretary General warned as he renewed his calls for an urgent ceasefire to allow aid through to those caught in the cross fire of the conflict.

The number of people killed in Gaza since the start of the war has risen to more than 10,000 - with at least 4,100 thought to be children, according to the Hamas-led health ministry.

If the death toll is accurate it would mean the conflict has quickly become the deadliest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence since Israel’s establishment 75 years ago.

Speaking at the UN on Monday, António Guterres called for $1.2 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to help people in Gaza as well as in the West Bank.

He said the "nightmare in Gaza" was a "crisis of humanity", warning "no one is safe".

It comes after Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced they had surrounded Gaza City, splitting the besieged coastal strip in two, as the territory recovers from a third communications outage.

The IDF has said it has opened a humanitarian corridor for a four-hour period to allow civilians to travel from northern Gaza to the south.

As casualties in Palestine rise, the UN Secretary-General urged for a ceasefire, ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports from Tel Aviv

Despite a push by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Joe Biden, the US appears no closer to securing even a temporary ceasefire.

Mr Biden spoke to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in their first conversation in eight days, repeating in private his public calls for lulls in the fighting to allow civilians to flee Israel's campaign to crush Hamas and for humanitarian aid to flow to hundreds of thousands in need.

The US president's call followed Blinken's frantic weekend of travel that took him from Israel to Jordan, the occupied West Bank, Cyprus, Iraq and onto Turkey to build support for the Biden administration's proposal for the humanitarian initiatives.

There has been growing criticism of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and questions over how civilians are supposed to heed IDF warnings when communications keep being blocked.

Telecommunications and internet services were restored in the Gaza Strip after being "intentionally and forcibly cut off" for a third time by Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has said.

Palestinians look for survivors under the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis refugee camp. Credit: AP

Israel has refuted these claims, and have instead stated that they are doing "everything in their power" to keep Gaza civilians safe.

On Monday, Mr Guterres said: "The intensifying conflict is shaking the world's rattling the region, and most tragically destroying so many innocent lives.

"Ground operations by the Israeli Defense Forces and continued bombardments are hitting civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities, including shelters.

"No one is safe. At the same time, Hamas and other militants use civilians as human shields and continue to launch rockets indiscriminately towards Israel.

“And the unfolding catastrophe makes the needs for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour.

"The parties to the conflict and indeed the international community face an immediate and fundamental responsibility to stop the inhuman collective suffering and dramatically expand humanitarian to Gaza."

Fire and smoke rises from buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Sunday. Credit: AP

His comments come as the heads of 11 UN agencies and six humanitarian organisations issued a joint plea for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

"An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship," the joint statement said.

Among those uniting behind the message that “enough is enough”, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths who renewed earlier pleas for the immediate and unconditional release of the more than 240 hostages captured by Hamas and held in Gaza since October 7.

The UN has said that 1.5 million people in Gaza, or 70% of the population, have fled their homes.

Airstrikes hit two refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing scores of people, health officials in the area said. Jordan, a key US ally that has a peace agreement with Israel, has managed to airdrop medical aid into Gaza for the first time, via its land border with Egypt.

The US has also urged Israel to take a "humanitarian pause" from its relentless bombardment of Gaza and rising civilian deaths.

A man lights candles during a vigil marking 30 days since the October 7 Hamas attack. Credit: AP

The US military has also acknowledged it has positioned a nuclear-capable submarine in Egypt's Suez Canal.

Roughly 1,100 people have left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing since Wednesday, under an apparent agreement among the United States, Egypt, Israel and Qatar - which mediates with Hamas.

However, since the crossing unexpectedly closed days ago, foreign nationals, including UK nationals, are reported to have been turned away.

Speaking on Monday, Rishi Sunak said UK diplomatic efforts in the country were continuing.

When asked about the difference between a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause, he told broadcasters: “We have been very clear and consistent that we support humanitarian pauses, which are there specifically to allow aid to get into Gaza and hostages and foreign nationals to come out.

"I’m pleased that over 100 British nationals have now been able to leave Gaza thanks to our diplomatic engagement.

"I spoke to both the Egyptian President and the Israeli Prime Minister about this specific issue last week.”

He added the UK was playing a “key role” to get aid to those who most needed it and would continue diplomatic efforts.

The UK Foreign Office has said it is temporarily withdrawing some British embassy staff from Lebanon.

It had already advised Britons against travelling to the country while encouraging those still in the country to leave while commercial flights remain.

It comes amid rising hostility between Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Israel, which have been exchanging daily rocket barrages since the conflict began.

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