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MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 25 OCTOBER 2023

UN chief calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza; Israel military ready for ground operation – chief of staff 

UN chief calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza; Israel military ready for ground operation – chief of staff 
UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaks to delegates during a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on 24 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Eduardo Munoz)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza at the Security Council, saying that ‘clear violations’ of international law were ongoing. Israel’s foreign minister cancelled a planned meeting with Guterres after the comments.

Israel’s military warned of “long weeks of fighting ahead” and said it hit Hezbollah targets near the Lebanese border, where militants earlier said they struck an Israeli post. In Gaza, the International Committee of the Red Cross said some hospitals in the north had no power and were short of medicines.

Latest developments

UN chief urges ceasefire, Israel says he should quit  

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on Israel and Hamas to halt their war, saying the parties were killing and injuring civilians in violation of international law. “The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas, and those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he told the Security Council on Tuesday.

After the speech, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen cancelled a proposed meeting with Guterres, and Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Ernan, called on the UN chief to resign over his remarks.

Israel says it hit Hezbollah targets near Lebanon border 

The Israeli military said it struck Hezbollah positions on the border with Lebanon after they launched rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli territory.

Hezbollah said it struck an Israeli post near the border with guided missiles, according to the group’s Al-Manar television channel.

Israel military ready for ground operation, says chief of staff  

Israel’s military is ready for the planned ground operation against Hamas, Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday. The military will decide with the country’s political leaders on the timing of the war’s next stage, he said.

Israel targets Hamas operatives in Gaza 

Israel killed several Hamas operatives, including the deputy commander of the battalion that took part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre on 7 October, Israel’s military said. Two other deputy battalion commanders were also killed, it said.

Hamas, meanwhile, said it launched missile attacks on Tel Aviv. Air raid sirens sounded in the city and in surrounding towns.

Egypt says Israel is stopping foreigners from leaving Gaza 

The Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Egypt isn’t safe for individuals, Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, told reporters, saying that Israel was blocking foreign nationals from leaving the territory. Rashwan reiterated that Egypt’s side of the border crossing was open.

Erdoğan and Putin discuss conflict 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed spiralling violence and Gaza’s growing humanitarian crisis, according to a readout of a phone call issued by Erdoğan’s office.

Erdoğan told Putin that the “deaths of civilians were mounting amid escalating violence toward Palestinian territories and that the silence of Western states has brought the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to an unavoidable level”, the readout said.

Gaza healthcare system collapses 

A spokesman for the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the healthcare system had collapsed. A dozen hospitals and 32 health centres were already out of service and there were fears more would halt operations due to airstrikes and shortages of fuel, Ashraf Al-Qidra said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its teams visited hospitals in northern Gaza and found facilities with no power and no painkillers and reported medical procedures being carried out by flashlight. The World Health Organization said almost two-thirds of Gaza’s health facilities had ceased functioning, AP reported.

World Bank chief says war could deal economic blow 

The war could deal a “serious” blow to the global economy, World Bank President Ajay Banga told Saudi Arabia’s flagship investment conference, the Future Investment Initiative.

“There’s so much going on in the world in geopolitics, in the wars that we’re seeing, with what just happened in Israel and Gaza,” he told a panel. “When you put all of this together, the impact on economic development is even more serious. I think we’re at a very serious juncture.”

Macron urges coalition to fight Hamas

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was ready for the international coalition against Islamic State to turn its focus on to Hamas. “The priority — your priority, but also that of all democracies and of France — is to defeat these terrorist groups with you,” Macron said at a joint press briefing with Netanyahu during a trip to Israel on Tuesday.

Macron also said Palestinians had the right to their own state and called for the resumption of the peace process with Israel.

Israel says ‘long weeks of fighting ahead’

The military anticipates “long weeks of fighting ahead”, without saying whether a ground invasion would soon begin. Spokesperson Daniel Hagari told a press briefing that troops were prepared for battle, but were waiting for optimal timing and government orders.

The air force was carrying out “very significant strikes” in northern Gaza, particularly around Gaza City, Hagari said, urging Palestinians to evacuate to the south of the enclave. Israel had also targeted multiple Hamas and Hezbollah cells planning to launch rockets at Israel over the past day, he said. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis News Hub

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