US vetoes UN resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas war
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 20: The US blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution backing a cease-fire in Gaza as it pushes forward its own efforts to stop an Israeli assault on Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge.
Thirteen of 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the text proposed by Algeria, the only Arab nation currently sitting on the council. The US, which wields veto power, blocked the resolution, and the UK abstained. The draft demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, warned about the forced displacement of Palestinians and called for the release of all hostages.
“The Security Council cannot afford passivity in face of the call for a cease-fire in Gaza,” Amar Bendjama, the Algerian envoy to the UN, said ahead of the vote Tuesday. “Silence and contempt is not a viable option. Now is the time for action and the time for truth.”
The US blocked the resolution after arguing it would interfere with efforts by President Joe Biden and his Qatari and Egyptian counterparts to broker a deal that would lead to the release of hostages held by Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union, and boost aid delivery into Gaza. Qatar said over the weekend that those negotiations have stalled.
“Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time than any of us might like,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before the UN vote. “Any action this council takes right now should help, not hinder, these sensitive and ongoing negotiations. And we believe that the resolution on the table right now would, in fact, negatively impact those negotiations.”
The US alternative calls for a temporary cease-fire and the release of all hostages held by Hamas while also warning against an Israeli assault on Rafah unless arrangements are made for civilians there to be moved to relative safety. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that will be done without explaining how.
The decision to call for a truce “as soon as practicable” marks a shift in policy for Washington, which has voted against multiple texts that openly called for a cease-fire since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.
The war with Hamas began when the militant group invaded southern Israel, carrying out attacks that left about 1,200 people dead and resulted in some 250 people being kidnapped. Since the fighting began, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials in the Hamas-run territory.
More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people fled to the Rafah area in recent months as Israel concentrated its military operations on areas farther north. Israel has now warned it will launch a ground offensive in the region as soon as March unless hostages still held by Hamas are released.
The US, European Union and other key Israeli allies have voiced strong criticism of a potential assault on Rafah. The US text warns that a ground offensive in the area would lead to “further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security,” according to a draft.
The text also condemns calls by Israeli ministers for the resettlement of Palestinians, rejecting “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza,” and endorses a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Prospect Of Full Israeli Incursion Into Gaza's Rafah 'Terrifying': UN
GENEVA, Feb 12: The United Nations said Monday the prospect of a full Israeli incursion into the crammed Gaza town of Rafah was "terrifying" and risked an "extremely high" number of casualties.
UN human rights chief Volker Turk urged world powers to "restrain rather than enable" as fears of a looming ground incursion grew among more than one million Palestinians trapped in the territory's far south.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to send ground troops into the crowded Rafah area as part of his goal of eliminating Hamas.
His declarations have sparked international alarm.
"A potential full-fledged military incursion into Rafah -- where some 1.5 million Palestinians are packed against the Egyptian border with nowhere further to flee -- is terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured," Turk said in a statement.
"Sadly, given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah.
"Beyond the pain and suffering of the bombs and bullets, this incursion into Rafah may also mean the end of the meagre humanitarian aid that has been entering and distributed with huge implications for all of Gaza, including the hundreds of thousands at grave risk of starvation and famine in the north."
The Gaza war broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
About 130 of the original 250 captives taken by Hamas more than four months ago are still believed to be held in Gaza, although Israel believes 29 of them are dead.
Israel has responded with a relentless offensive in Gaza that the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed at least 28,340 people, mostly women and children.
"My office has repeatedly warned against actions that violate the laws of war. The prospect of such an operation into Rafah, as circumstances stand, risks further atrocity crimes," said Turk.
He said those who defy international law had been put on notice and accountability must follow.
"The world must not allow this to happen," Turk said.
"Those with influence must restrain rather than enable. There must be an immediate ceasefire. All remaining hostages must be released. And there must be renewed collective resolve to reach a political solution."
‘Clearly unacceptable…’: India's strong words at UNGA on Israel-Hamas war
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10: India on Wednesday strongly condemned the loss of lives in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, calling it an “alarming humanitarian crisis”.
Addressing a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), India's permanent representative to the United Nations Ruchira Kamboj said the only way to a peaceful resolution to the conflict is through “dialogue and diplomacy”.
“The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to a large-scale loss of civilian lives, especially women and children, and has resulted in an alarming humanitarian crisis. This is clearly unacceptable and we have strongly condemned the deaths of civilians. At the same time, we are aware that the immediate trigger was the terror attacks in Israel on October 7, which were shocking and deserve our unequivocal condemnation. India has a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism,” Kamboj said during the UNGA meeting.
“The message that India has conveyed since the start of this conflict is clear and consistent. It is important to prevent escalation, to ensure continued delivery of humanitarian aid, and to work towards an early restoration of peace and stability. A peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy is the only way forward,” she added.
Kamboj, during the meeting, also highlighted India's continuous efforts to normalise the ongoing situation in Gaza, saying, “The leadership of India is in constant touch with the leaders of the region, including those of Israel and Palestine…We have also called for continued humanitarian aid for the affected population and in this regard, we hope that Security Council Resolution 2720 would aid in enhancing humanitarian assistance.”
So far, India has provided 70 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including 16.5 tonnes of medicine and medical supplies in two tranches, to Gaza, Kamboj said.
“We've also provided US dollars 5 million, including the USD 2.5 million we provided at the end of December 2023 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East, which will go to support the agency's core programs and services, including education, health care, relief and social services provided to Palestinian refugees,” she added.