Israel-Hamas war: UN chief Guterres invokes Article 99 over Gaza

Thursday, 7 December 2023 (15:29 IST)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter.
It allows the secretary-general to draw the attention of the Security Council to "any matter which, in his opinion, may jeopardize the maintenance of international peace and security."
It is the first time since Guterres took office in 2017 that he has made such a move. According to the UN, Article 99 has not been invoked for decades.
The enormous loss of life in the Gaza Strip and Israel within a comparatively short period was the main factor behind the decision, the UN said.
In a letter shared on X, formerly Twitter, Guterres wrote: "I urge the members of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. I reiterate my appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire to be declared. This is urgent."
There are no direct consequences of invoking Article 99. However, the Security Council is expected to meet on Thursday or Friday to discuss the issue, a meeting in which Guterres is set to attend.
Israeli army says Khan Younis completely encircled
The Israeli army says it has completely encircled Khan Younis, the main city in southern Gaza, after breaching Hamas defenses.
Tanks and troops had moved into the city during the week, and intense fighting was reported on Wednesday.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had been going house-to-house in Khan Younis as street battles forced more civilians to flee toward the Egyptian border.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the IDF had surrounded the home of Yehya Sinwar, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, which is reportedly in Khan Younis. Hamas is classified as a terrorist group by the US, EU and others.
Although Sinwar may still flee, Netanyahu said: "It is only a matter of time before we find him."
Israel announces new evacuation window, closure of exit route
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has announced a new window for residents of a neighborhood in southern Gaza to evacuate as it continues its military offensive across the strip.
Military activities will be "tactically, locally and temporarily" suspended between 10 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) and 2 p.m. in Rafah's Salam neighborhood, Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee said. 
He cited "humanitarian reasons" and "reinforcements" as the reasons for the pause.
However, Adraee noted that parts of Salahuddin road, which spans the entire Gaza Strip from north to south and has been consistently used as an evacuation passage, were now effectively a "battlefield."
"IDF fighting and military advances in the Khan Younis area do not allow for the movement of civilians via Salahuddin road in the areas around north and east of Khan Younis city," Adraee said. Israeli troops have encircled the city, the strip's second largest, with the fighting intensifying on Wednesday.
Adraee added that civilians will be granted safe exit via a road west of Khan Younis, allowing movement from the city and Rafah toward western Gaza.
UAE submits UN Security Council resolution calling for cease-fire
The United Arab Emirates says it has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip to be "adopted urgently."
"The situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic and close to irreversible," the UAE's mission to the UN said in a statement. "We cannot wait. The Council needs to act decisively to demand a humanitarian cease-fire."
The UAE mission referred to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's "rare" invocation of Article 99 of the UN Charter, calling on the Security Council to act to avert a "humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza."
It said that its draft resolution has the support of Arab states and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
"This is a moral and humanitarian imperative, and we urge all countries to support the call of the secretary-general," it said.
The Security Council is expected to meet on Thursday or Friday to discuss the invocation.

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