United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described an extended truce between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas on Monday as “a glimpse of hope and humanity,” but warned it was not enough time to meet the aid needs of the Gaza Strip.
Mediator Qatar said on Monday that the initial four day truce had been extended by two days, continuing a pause in seven weeks of warfare that has killed thousands and laid waste to the Palestinian enclave.
“I strongly hope that this will enable us to increase even more the humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza that (are) suffering so much – knowing that even with that additional amount of time, it will be impossible to satisfy all the dramatic needs of the population,” Guterres told reporters.
The United Nations has been delivering some humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing from Egypt. The United Nations also wants to be able to use the Kerem Shalom border crossing, controlled by Israel.
“I am sincerely hopeful that it will be possible to have other crossings because they will facilitate the distribution and it will also facilitate the control by the Israeli side. So I’m very hopeful that this will happen,” Guterres said.
Earlier on Monday, Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said negotiations must continue with the aim of turning the temporary truce in Gaza into a full humanitarian ceasefire.
“The United Nations will continue to support these efforts in every possible way,” Dujarric said in a statement.
Guterres again called for the hostages held by Hamas to be released immediately and unconditionally, Dujarric said.
The United Nations has scaled up the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza over the past four days during the truce and sent aid to some northern areas that had been largely cut off for weeks, Dujarric said.
“But this aid barely registers against the huge needs of 1.7 million displaced people. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is getting worse by the day,” he said.