UN rights chief calls for 'immediate humanitarian ceasefire' in Gaza

UN rights chief calls for 'immediate humanitarian ceasefire' in Gaza
UN rights chief Volker Turk has called for an 'immediate humanitarian ceasefire' in Gaza amid a refusal by the US to consider the issue.
2 min read
Volker Turk said leaders needed to take 'brave and humane' choices [Getty]

The United Nations' rights chief called Monday for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as its residents face ferocious and indiscriminate Israeli bombardments in response to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

"The first step must be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, saving the lives of civilians through the delivery of prompt and effective humanitarian aid," rights chief Volker Turk said in a statement.

Over 5,000 civilians have been killed in Gaza in the Israeli airstrikes, 2,000 of them children. Scores of people were killed in Israeli bombing raids on the south of the besieged enclave in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

"This violence will never end unless leaders stand up and take the brave and humane choices that are required by fundamental humanity," Turk said.

The international community remains divided toward a potential halt to the fighting despite the need for aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has cut off supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food following the Hamas attack that saw at least 1,400 people killed, mostly civilians, and the taking of more than 200 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

"Far too many civilian lives, many of them children, have already been lost - on both sides - as a consequence of these hostilities," Turk said.

"And, unless something changes, coming days will see more civilians on the brink of death from continuing bombardment."

US President Joe Biden, a staunch Israel ally, said Monday that discussions about a Gaza ceasefire could take place only if Hamas freed all hostages seized from Israel during its attack.

"We should have those hostages released and then we can talk," Biden said when asked if he would support a "hostages-for-ceasefire" deal.