Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed Thursday with UN Secretary-General António Guterres how to reduce tension in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
At a joint press conference following their meeting in Cairo, Shoukry said they discussed the continuing escalation in Gaza and its devastating impact on the Palestinian people.
The foreign minister echoed the UN’s call for an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing crisis that has left more than 3,700 Palestinians dead and another 12,000 injured.
Gaza, under constant Israeli bombardment, is under total siege by Israel and has been without basic services since October 7, when the recent escalation between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) began.
In this regard, Shoukry stated, “I fully agree with the UN Secretary General that attacking humanitarian and UN sites is a flagrant violation of humanitarian law and must cease immediately.”
The foreign minister also stressed Egypt’s interest in getting the Gaza crossing operational immediately. “We are trying to get the crossing back up and running so that aid can enter Gaza, despite the continuous shelling from the Israeli side,” Shoukry said.
He also noted that “there is no other solution than for the parties to return to the negotiating table to agree on a two-state solution. We call on everyone to listen to the voice of reason and wisdom and put an end to the escalation in the Gaza Strip,” Shoukry said.
“I am in the Middle East on a humanitarian mission at a moment of profound crisis – a crisis unlike any the region has seen in decades”
��Eskinder Debebe pic.twitter.com/pxFGpZonah
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson)
October 19, 2023
The talks came a day after Israel agreed to allow some of the humanitarian aid provided by Egypt, other countries and organizations to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave.
On the Egyptian side of the crossing, there are many trucks loaded with tons of aid supplies recently donated by several countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) waiting to cross into Gaza on Friday, according to Egypt’s Al-Qahera News.
Commenting on the Cairo Peace Summit convened by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Shoukry said that “we will work to reach an international solution in line with humanitarian principles to stop the escalation in Gaza.”
The summit is scheduled for Saturday and will be attended by Guterres. From Cairo, the UN Secretary-General said that “for almost two weeks now, the people of Gaza have not received any shipments of fuel, food, water, medicine and other necessities.”
Guterres said that Egypt’s El Arish airport and the Rafah crossing are “our only hope” as “lifelines for the people of Gaza.”
The UN chief added that legitimate Palestinian grievances over 56 years of occupation do not justify Hamas attacks against Israel, and those attacks do not justify Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, carried out large-scale attacks against Israel on October 7, in which the group also took between 200 and 250 Israeli hostages. In retaliation, Israel launched attacks on Gaza and a total siege of the enclave, triggering an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.