Over 80 people in Orkney joined with others across Scotland on Saturday 4th of November in demonstrations calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “horrified” by a strike on an ambulance convoy outside a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Friday, reiterating his appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire.
According to reports, at Al Shifa Hospital, the ambulances were evacuating critically injured and sick patients to hospitals in the south of the Gaza Strip when they were struck at the entrance of the hospital.
“I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa Hospital. The images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital are harrowing,” the UN chief said in a statement, issued late on Friday New York time.
He stated that he did not forget the terror attacks committed in Israel by Hamas and the killing, maiming and abductions, including of women and children. He stressed that all hostages held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Mr. Guterres added that for nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes.
“This must stop,” he stressed.
Mr. Guterres further noted that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “horrific”.
“Not nearly enough food, water and medicine are coming in to meet people’s needs. Fuel to power hospitals and water plants is running out,” he said, noting that shelters by the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) were at nearly four times their full capacity “and are being hit in bombardments”.
“Morgues are overflowing. Shops are empty. The sanitation situation is abysmal. We are seeing an increase in diseases and respiratory illnesses, especially among children. An entire population is traumatized. Nowhere is safe.”
Vigils have been held all across Scotland since the start of the bombardment.
The Gaza Strip is 41 kilometres (25 miles) long, from 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, and has a total area of 365 km2 (141 sq mi). With around 2 million Palestinians on approximately 365 km2 (141 sq mi) of land. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza, which contains eight refugee camps, are descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.[Sunni Muslims make up most of Gaza’s population, with a Palestinian Christian minority.
The head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said he was “utterly shocked” by the strike on the ambulances.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed:
“We reiterate: patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times, always.”
In a separate statement, the agency also said that attacks on healthcare, including the targeting of hospitals and restricting the delivery of essential aid such as medical supplies, fuel, and water, may amount to violations of international humanitarian law.
“WHO reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire, emphasizing the urgent need to protect all health workers, patients, health transport, and health facilities,” WHO said.
The Scottish Government has pledged a further £250,000 to support displaced people in Gaza access food, water, shelter and medical supplies. The additional money takes the total given to assist relief efforts in Gaza via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s Flash Appeal (UNRWA) to £750,000.
Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said:
“I have been repeatedly calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, but while we press this vital issue it’s important we support the Palestinian people as much as we can.
“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic which is why I’m pledging this additional funding to support in helping to stop the humanitarian disaster we are witnessing. As supplies run out in Gaza, the lives of innocent civilians are at grave risk from a lack of food, water, medical supplies and fuel.
“My thoughts remain with all of those caught in the middle of the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza. The killing of innocent civilians can never be justified, wherever it occurs.”
Marta Lorenzo, Director of UNRWA Representative Office Europe said:
“Scotland has proven that they stand hand in hand with Palestine refugees and those suffering in Gaza.
“Scotland is helping UNRWA provide shelter, food, medicines and water to entire families that had to flee their home. We are extremely grateful for the additional contribution from Scotland demonstrating the increasingly strong support to UNRWA.
“With this vital funding the Agency will be able to continue providing essential and life-saving aid. With the ongoing crisis deepening further each day it is vital for more donors to step forward and support the millions of people suffering in the Gaza strip.”
The UK Government has committed a further $37 million in humanitarian assistance since October 16. In a statement Ambassador Tom Woodroffe told the OCHA Briefing that this would be a of ‘doubling the UK’s commitment to the Occupied Palestinian Territories this year.’ And he said:
“The UK continues to call for immediate, unimpeded, and safe humanitarian access to Gaza, so that lifesaving aid, including water, fuel, medicine, and food, can reach the civilians who desperately need it. Piped water supplies and allowing fuel to enter Gaza are essential to allow hospitals and other critical infrastructure to operate. And we urge all parties to allow for humanitarian pauses, which would ensure safe aid delivery and critical repairs to key infrastructure including water and electricity.”
Senior UN officials met on Friday,3rd November, in a briefing to Member States in New York.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths said:
“What we’ve seen unfold over the last 26 days in Israel and in the Occupied Territories is nothing short of what I think I would call a blight on our collective conscience. All of us, we are all somehow involved in this.”
1,400 Israelis have been killed and nearly 9,000 Palestinians, though the true number will only be known after the rubble is cleared in Gaza.
More than 1.5 million people are now displaced and nearly 600,000 are crowded in shelters run by the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA, which has lost 72 staff members. The highest loss ever of UN staff in conflict.
Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said four UNRWA shelters hosting nearly 20,0000 displaced people were hit on Thursday. At least 23 people were killed, and dozens injured.
Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs, speaking from its Rafah logistics base said that although people are sheltering under the UN flag, “the reality is we cannot even provide them safety under a UN flag,”
More images from Saturday’s ceasefire vigil in Orkney
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