Palestinians mourn

Palestinians mourn as they sit on the rubble of a building in Gaza City's Shati refugee camp on November 6, 2023.

(Photo: Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Must Stop Now': Aid Leaders Issue Joint Call for Cease-Fire as Gaza Death Toll Tops 10,000

"An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals, and places of worship. This is unacceptable."

The United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, the president of Save the Children, the head of the World Health Organization, and other global aid leaders issued a joint statement Sunday calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as the death toll and humanitarian crisis continue to worsen.

The statement points with alarm to the Israeli military's "horrific killings" of Gaza civilians, attacks on healthcare facilities and homes, and the siege that has cut off Gazans' access to water, electricity, food, and fuel. Roughly 70% of Gaza's population has been internally displaced since the Israeli bombing began on October 7.

"An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals, and places of worship. This is unacceptable," the aid officials said. "We need an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. It's been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now."

Hours after the statement's release, the Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll in the occupied territory has surpassed 10,000 after just a month of Israeli bombing. Children make up roughly 40% of the death toll.

The statement from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee is part of a growing international push for a cease-fire that has been joined by major human rights organizations, the head of the U.N., Arab leaders, Jewish peace advocates, and a growing number of U.S. lawmakers. Two-thirds of U.S. voters support a cease-fire, according to recent polling.

Late last week, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) became the latest member of Congress to demand a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza.

"The people of Gaza desperately need water, food, medicine, and fuel NOW," said Waters. "There must be negotiations for the release of all hostages, NOW. Hamas must cease all attacks on Israel, and Israel must cease all attacks on Gaza. The killing of civilians must stop, and the U.S. must provide leadership in seeking and working for peaceful solutions to this devastating time in the history of our world."

Despite growing domestic pressure, the Biden administration has thus far dismissed calls for a cease-fire, opting instead to urge Israel to allow "humanitarian pauses" aimed at letting aid freely flow into Gaza.

After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to continue attacking Gaza "with full force" and said his country won't consider a cease-fire until all hostages are released.

The Associated Pressreported Monday that Israeli forces have "severed northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory and pounded it with intense airstrikes overnight... setting the stage for an expected push into the dense confines of Gaza City and an even bloodier phase of the month-old war."

"Israeli bombardments have continued across the territory, and strikes in central and southern Gaza—the purported safe zone—killed dozens of people on Sunday," AP added.

Israeli settler violence is also mounting in the illegally occupied West Bank. A spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement last week that "in repeated incidents, armed settlers have given Palestinian communities ultimatums to leave their homes or be killed."

"In one chilling example of the intimidation communities are facing, pamphlets were reportedly left by settlers on Palestinian vehicles with threatening messages telling them to leave now or face 'elimination,'" the official said.

In their joint statement on Sunday, the global aid leaders reiterated their "plea for the parties to respect all their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law."

"We renew our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians held hostage. Civilians and the infrastructure they rely on—including hospitals, shelters, and schools—must be protected," they added. "More aid—food, water, medicine, and of course fuel—must enter Gaza safely, swiftly, and at the scale needed, and must reach people in need, especially women and children, wherever they are."

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