Shortly after both sides agreed to extend the temporary truce by two days, Riyad Mansour, called for a permanent ceasefire on Tuesday in an emotive speech to the UN during a day-long meeting on the question of Palestine.
He said this was the deadliest period ever endured by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – and began: “15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including more than 6,000 children and more than 4,000 women.”
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza did stop counting the dead earlier this month as the health system and hospitals in the territory are collapsing.
It’s also too difficult to retrieve bodies from the war zone right now so the Gaza media office has instead been releasing estimates.
Mansour continued: “More than 30,000 people have been wounded with many suffering amputations and burns, enduring their injuries and pain without medical care and with nowhere safe to heal and recover.
“Over 1.8 million civilians in Gaza, or nearly 80% of the population are estimated to be internally displaced.
“The majority of them thought to be refugees, displaced for the second, third or fourth time in their lives.
“Of them, nearly 1.1 million are sheltering in 156 UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] facilities across Gaza.
“Bearing indignities that no human should be forced to bear. And still not protected, even under the UN flag.
Elsewhere in his speech, he pointed out that the UN promises to save generations from the “scourge of war” in its charter, but claimed: “Not a single Palestinian generation has been saved from the scourge of war.”
Mansour pointed out that the UN’s General Assembly was the first UN body to call for a sustained truce, after more than two-thirds of the UN membership voted in favour of doing so.
He said if it had been introduced, thousands of Palestinians would have been spared – but he claimed the UN’s Security Council ended up going with a “less ambitious resolution” to call for humanitarian pauses instead.
He claimed it was “a full-fledged war against Palestine and its people,” and pointed out more than 230 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank too, and 3,000 civilians arrested and detained in the territory.
He said this meant more than 10,000 Palestinians were now being held captive in Israeli jails.
His comments were later repeated in the UN’s press release about the meeting and the “staggering loss of life” seen in Gaza.
The war began on October 7 when Palestinian militants, Hamas, killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 240 hostage.
Israel retaliated by putting Gaza – which is run by Hamas – under siege, launching a series of air strikes and a ground invasion.
Israel has promised the war will not be over until Hamas is eliminated, even if Hamas returns all of its hostages.
As of Wednesday, the truce had been going for six days. Hamas released 60 Israeli women and children in that time, and 21 foreigners were freed in a parallel deal.
Israel has released 180 Palestinian security detainees, all women and teenagers, in exchange, according to Reuters.
Qatar, which has been acting as a mediator, spoke to spy chiefs from Israel and the US about extending the deal on Tuesday.
Israel and the UN fell into a spat in October when the UN chief, Antonio Guterres, said the Hamas attack did not “happen in a vacuum”.
Guterres said: “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”
He added: “But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, then responded on X (formerly Twitter), saying it was “shocking” and that “the Secretary-General is completely disconnected from the reality in our region,” calling for him to resign.
Israel foreign minister Eli Cohen said he would refuse to meet with Guterres again.