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UN airs concerns for civilians as Israel steps up military response in Gaza to deadly Hamas attacks

UN airs concerns for civilians as Israel steps up military response in Gaza to deadly Hamas attacks

The United Nations is expressing growing concerns about humanitarian needs in Palestinian areas as Israel ratchets up a muscular military riposte and lockdown of Gaza after the weekend attack by Hamas militants who killed and kidnapped hundreds of civilians in Israel

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations, aid groups and public health experts expressed growing concerns Monday about humanitarian needs in Palestinian areas as Israel ratchets up a muscular military riposte and a lockdown of Gaza, after the weekend attack by Hamas militants who killed and kidnapped hundreds of civilians in Israel.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres led the clarion call, endeavoring to put the focus on civilians in both Israel and Gaza and renewing his condemnation of the fatalities and hostage-takings by Hamas. He also warned of the prospect of more innocent lives lost.

In a statement to reporters in New York, Guterres said that more than 137,000 people in Gaza — or about 6% of its population — were now sheltering in sites run by UNRWA, the aid agency for Palestinians. He cited reports of Israeli missile strikes on places like schools, health facilities and high-rise apartment buildings.

“I am deeply distressed by today’s announcement that Israel will initiate a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, nothing allowed in — no electricity, food, or fuel,” he said.