UN chief urges Israel, Hamas not to miss opportunity for agreement

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly urged Israel and Hamas not to miss an opportunity to agree on a truce and hostage-release deal.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Guterres said that he had earlier in the day made a "very strong appeal to the government of Israel and the leadership of Hamas in order to go an extra mile to materialize an agreement that is absolutely vital."

He described the chance as "an opportunity that cannot be missed."

The UN chief added that a ground invasion in the southern Gaza city of Rafah would be "intolerable because of its devastating humanitarian consequences and because of its destabilizing impact in the region."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk issued a statement on Monday regarding the Israeli call for residents in some parts of Rafah to evacuate.

Turk noted that people in Gaza "continue to be hit with bombs, disease, and even famine," and that "they have been told that they must relocate yet again as Israeli military operations into Rafah scale up."

He called the situation "inhumane" and "contrary to the basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights laws, which have the effective protection of civilians as their overriding concern."