UN chief invokes rare article to bring UNSC’s attention to Palestinians’ plight


Hamas battles Israeli invasion forces in Khan Yunis city
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring to the attention of the Security Council the deteriorating conditions in the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
In Article 99, the charter states, “the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Now Guterres will have the right to speak at the Security Council, without having to be invited to speak by a member state, as is usually the case.
In a letter to the Security Council released a day earlier, Guterres said the UNSC’s continued lack of action and the sharp deterioration of the situation in Gaza had compelled him to invoke Article 99 for the first time since he took on the top job at the UN in 2017.
Guterres warned that public order in Gaza could soon break down amid the complete collapse of the humanitarian system and with no effective protection for civilians, “nowhere was safe in Gaza”.
“The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region,” the letter stated.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen lashed out against Guterres, saying his tenure was “a danger to world peace” after he invoked a rare UN procedure over the Gaza war.
“His request to activate Article 99 and the call for a ceasefire in Gaza constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization,” Cohen wrote on X.
“We, too, want this war to end,” Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told reporters, “But it can only end in a way that ensures that Hamas can never attack our people again.”
Hamas battles invading Israeli forces
Hamas resistance fighters battled invading Israeli forces on Thursday in the heart of southern Gaza’s main city of Khan Yunis as Israel pressed on with its invasion across the besieged territory.
Israeli troops, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers continued to advance into Khan Yunis, forcing already displaced civilians to flee again, witnesses said.
Hamas said late Wednesday on Telegram its fighters were engaged in fierce battles against Israeli troops “on all axes of the incursion into the Gaza Strip”, as it said they destroyed two dozen military vehicles in Khan Yunis and Beit Lahia in the north of the territory.
Earlier, the Israeli army claimed it had pierced defensive lines and carried out “targeted raids in the heart of the city”, where they allegedly found and destroyed 30 tunnel shafts.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement that Israeli forces were closing in on the home of Hamas’s chief in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar, with a spokesman saying it is “underground” in the Khan Yunis area.
Sinwar stands accused of being one of the masterminds of the October 7 attacks on Israel, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the deadliest attack in its history, vowing to eradicate the group and bring home all the captives.
Sinwar has not been seen in public during the war, and Israel has named him and the leader of Hamas’s armed wing, Mohammed Deif, as its top military targets.
But humanitarian organisations have warned the spread of the war into the south of the Gaza Strip will leave civilians who fled the north, much of which is now destroyed, with nowhere to go.
“We are devastated, mentally overwhelmed,” said Khan Yunis resident Amal Mahdi. “We need someone to find us a solution so we can get out of this situation.”
The latest toll from the Palestinian government said the war has killed more than 16,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children.
Much of northern Gaza has already been reduced to rubble by fierce fighting and bombardment, displacing 1.9 million people according to UN figures.
Many civilians fled to Khan Yunis when Israel ordered them to evacuate the north of the territory earlier in the war.
They are now being pushed further south to Rafah on the border with Egypt.
“There was bombardment, destruction, leaflets dropping, threats, and phone calls to evacuate and leave Khan Yunis,” said Khamis Al-Dalu, who told AFP he was first displaced from Gaza City, and then from Khan Yunis to Rafah.
“Where to go? Where do you want us to go for God’s sake? We left Khan Yunis and now we are in tents in Rafah.”
And Israeli bombardments have followed them there.