UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “dismayed” by civilian casualties in Gaza and “deeply disturbed” by Israel’s strike on a building containing international media outlets, a spokesman said.
The comments came as Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with air strikes, killing 10 members of an extended family and demolishing the 13-floor Gaza building housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera and The Associated Press news agency, with Palestinian militants firing back barrages of rockets.
“The Secretary-General is dismayed by the increasing number of civilian casualties, including the death of ten members of the same family, including children, as a result of an Israeli airstrike last night in the al-Shati camp in Gaza, purportedly aimed at a Hamas leader,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in the written response to questions on the Israeli air strikes in Gaza.
Guterres was “also deeply disturbed by the destruction by an Israeli airstrike today of a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the offices of several international media organizations as well as residential apartments,” Dujarric continued.
“The Secretary-General reminds all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” he said.
The UN Security Council was to meet Sunday to discuss the violence.
US President Joe Biden expressed his “grave concern” over violence in Israel and Gaza in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday while separately telling Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that Hamas must “cease firing rockets.”
Speaking on the sixth day of a paroxysm of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has left scores dead or wounded, Biden expressed his “strong support” for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks by “Hamas and other terrorist groups,” in his call with Netanyahu, while also emphasizing his clear concern over the deadly flare-up and casualties on both sides.
“He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel,” the White House statement said.
But Biden also raised concerns about the safety of journalists after Israeli air strikes on Saturday flattened a building in Gaza housing The Associated Press and other international media outlets.
In a phone call with AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered “unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world,” noting the “indispensability” of reporting in conflict zones, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Biden, who up to now has said little publicly about the heightened violence, voiced US support for a negotiated two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He made the same point in a separate phone call with president Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, the White House said, highlighting “strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The US leader, in his first call with Abbas since taking office, also “stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel.”