UN chief warns Israel-Lebanon war would be disaster

AFP , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that a "full-fledged confrontation" between Israel and Lebanon would be a "total disaster" as fears of a wider regional confrontation mount amid Israel's siege and war on Gaza.

Guterres Davos
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the assembly during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos on January 17, 2024. AFP


Addressing the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, Guterres reiterated his call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza.

Israel has waged a war on Gaza since 7 October that has ravaged the Palestinian territory, killing at least 24,448 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Since then, the Lebanese-Israeli border has witnessed a near-daily exchange of fire between Israel's army and Lebanon's resistance group Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, previously called on people to "work day and night" to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza. This comes on top of lingering tensions from previous wars that have mounted tensions between the two sides.

"The spillover that is already taking place, the risk of a full-fledged confrontation in Lebanon, it would be a total disaster. We need to avoid it at all cost," Guterres said.

Yemeni Houthi rebels have also struck Israeli-linked shipping in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and to pressure Israel into halting its hostilities and allowing unfettered aid access to more than 2 million Gazans; 85 percent of them displaced by Israel's war, according to the UN.

The United Nations chief has repeatedly suggested that a ceasefire would help to avoid further chaos.

"What we are seeing in the Red Sea, all this demonstrates that it's not enough. It's very important to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It's very important to have a humanitarian ceasefire," he said.

Moreover, Guterres repeated his call for an independent Palestinian state to be established.

"I believe that the present situation has demonstrated that the two-state solution is an absolutely central way to solve this problem," he said.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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