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UN head Guterres urges release of Israeli hostages 6 months after Hamas Oct. 7 attack

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media, after visiting the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, as Egyptian Red Crescent members coordinate aid for Gaza, at Al Arish Airport, Egypt, March 23, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo)

The United Nations Sec.-Gen. António Guterres has raised the plight of around 100 Israeli hostages still presumed alive in Gaza, six months after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and massacred over 1,200 people.

“I once again condemn the use of sexual violence, torture & kidnapping of civilians, and call for the unconditional release of all the hostages,” Guterres wrote on 𝕏.

“The 7th of October is a day of pain for Israel and the world. Nothing can justify the horror unleashed by Hamas.”.

The UN chief went even further and wrote: “The United Nations and I personally mourn with Israelis for the 1,200 people, including many women and children, who were killed in cold blood.”

Yesterday, it was confirmed that another one of the original 253 Israeli and international hostages, Elad Katzir, 47, had been murdered in captivity in January. His mother, Hanna, was also taken hostage, and released in November. His father, Avraham, was murdered during the invasion of Israel's southern border communities on Oct. 7.

The Jerusalem Post reported that it is now possible that only 70-80 of the remaining hostages are still alive, according to sources.

Guterres’ latest statement contrasts sharply with his previous harsh comments, during the ongoing Hamas-initiated war. In October, Guterres appeared to justify the terrorists’ atrocities, which caused controversy.

“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” Guterres said at the time, falsely claiming that Gazans have been subjected to “56 years of suffocating occupation,” despite the fact that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Unimpressed, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz demanded that the UN chief match his belated words of compassion with action against Hamas.

“The time has come after more than six months. Now, bring the wording you drafted as a binding decision to the UN Security Council, pursuant to your authority under Article 99, including the imposition of sanctions on the terrorist organization Hamas - just like on Al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Katz said.

Hamas has deliberately embedded its forces within civilian structures, such as hospitals, mosques, schools and residential buildings. Despite a challenging terrain, the Israeli military has reportedly neutralized 17 out of Hamas’ 24 battalions in Gaza. The majority of the remaining Hamas forces are currently concentrated in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, adjacent to the Egyptian border.

During a visit to the Egyptian side of Rafah in March, the UN chief accused Israel of implementing “collective punishment” against the civilian population in Gaza

“Here from this crossing, we see the heartbreak and heartlessness of it all. A long line of blocked relief trucks on one side of the gates, the long shadow of starvation on the other,” Guterres said at the time.

“That is more than tragic. It is a moral outrage,” he added, while ignoring the fact that Hamas deliberately uses civilians as human shields, and has repeatedly stolen humanitarian aid intended for the civilian population.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have stressed that an incursion in Rafah is a key to dismantling Hamas as a military and political power in the Gaza Strip.

However, the Israeli military announced on Sunday that it has withdrawn most of its forces in southern Gaza, ahead of the expected operation against Hamas forces in Rafah. The IDF's Nahal Brigade troops are reportedly the only remaining forces in Gaza, tasked with securing the Netzarim corridor in the central part of the Strip.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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