In defiance of international calls to stop bombardment of Gaza, Israel extends airstrikes to West Bank

Israel announced it will not issue visas to UN staff after UN Secretary General António Guterres stated that the October 7 attacks by Palestinian resistance groups were not carried out “in a vacuum”

October 25, 2023 by Abdul Rahman
Israel-Hamas war
(Photo: Quds News Network/X)

Israel continued to bomb innocent civilians inside the besieged Gaza strip in the third week of its offensive on Tuesday, October 24. According to the Palestinian officials in Gaza, at least 80 people were killed in the territory in overnight airstrikes carried out by Israel. Several more Palestinians were killed in fresh airstrikes in the early morning of Wednesday. 

Israeli occupation forces also carried out fresh attacks inside the occupied West Bank on Tuesday night and early morning on Wednesday, killing at least seven Palestinians. At least three people were killed in an Israeli air strike on the Jenin refugee camp, one Palestinian was killed at Qalqilya, and another in the occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli attacks inside the occupied West Bank since October 7 have killed over 103 Palestinians. 

According to Palestinian officials, the total number of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes and raids since October 7 has crossed 6,000, with over 18,000 injured. Almost 2,300 of those killed in the Israeli attacks were children. 

According to Palestinian officials, over 12,000 tons of explosives have been used by Israel to bomb Gaza since October 7, which is “equivalent in magnitude to the devastating nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”  

It has also been alleged that Israel has used the banned white phosphorus against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. 

The condition of hospitals in Gaza is very dire, according to UN agencies. They claimed that most of the hospitals are likely to be forced to shut down due to acute fuel shortages caused by the relentless Israeli bombing and the blockade imposed on the supply of all essential goods inside the densely populated territory. 

Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza strip has forcibly displaced over a million Palestinians. Out of these, around 600,000 Palestinians are living in 150 facilities run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which claimed on Wednesday that it is sheltering at least four times more people than the total capacity of those facilities and that the Israeli attacks have impacted at least 40 facilities. 

Israel carried out attacks inside Syria in the early morning of Wednesday as well. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that at least eight military personnel were killed and seven others were injured in an Israeli airstrike in its southern Daraa province.  

Israel says no visas to UN staff over Guterres’ remarks 

Following comments by UN Secretary General António Guterres on Tuesday, who stated that the attacks carried out by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas inside Israel on October 7 “did not happen in a vacuum,” Israel announced it would deny visas to all UN officials. Guterres had also asked for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the lifting of the blockade imposed by Israel on the supply of food, fuel and medicine to Gaza since October 9. 

Guterres asserted that Israel and the world community need to focus on finding ways to materialize a two-state solution as the “only realistic foundation for peace and stability in the Middle East.” He said that “Israelis must see their legitimate need for security materialized and Palestinians must see their legitimate need for an independent state realized, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”

Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said that Israel has already denied a visa to Martin Griffith, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, and “will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives” due to the comments made by Guterres. He stated that “the time has come to teach [the UN] a lesson,” The Times of Israel reported. 

Erden also demanded that Guterres resign from his post.  

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held a day-long meeting on the situation in Gaza on Tuesday. Several countries including Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Russia, and China, as well as several UN humanitarian representatives, criticized Israel for targeting civilians and demanded an immediate ceasefire to address the grave humanitarian situation on the ground.  

However, most of the Western representatives, including the US, France, the UK, and Germany, stood behind Israel and supported its “right to defense.”

Addressing the meeting, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki criticized Western countries for extending their support to Israel’s mission to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and noted that the Security Council’s “continued failure” to end the massacre of civilians in Palestine “is inexcusable.”  

The UN Security Council has met several times since October 7 to vote on resolutions demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. However, the US and its allies have used their veto on occasions to deny the adoption of any such resolution.