Monday, April 22, 2024

WORLD | 25-03-2024 11:54

United Nations Security Council demands 'immediate' ceasefire in Gaza

UN Security Council demands 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire for first time; Only United States abstains, 14 other members vote in favour.

The UN Security Council for the first time on Monday demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, with the United States, Israel's ally which has vetoed previous bids, abstaining.

The resolution, which demands an "immediate ceasefire" for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan that leads to a "lasting" truce, went through, with all other 14 Security Council members voting yes.

It also demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages" as well as "the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."

The new text also deplores "all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism."

A change in tone from Washington towards toward its Middle Eastern ally was seen last Friday, when the United States put forward a resolution to recognise "the imperative" of an "immediate and sustained ceasefire."

That text was nevertheless blocked by Russia and China, which along with Arab states criticised it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign in Gaza.

The new resolution has been the work of the Council's non-permanent members, who negotiated with the United States over the weekend to avoid another veto, according to diplomatic sources who expressed a certain optimism at its passage.

"We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the United States will not vote against it," one diplomat told AFP prior to Monday'svote.

The United States has repeatedly blocked ceasefire resolutions as it attempts to walk a line between supporting Israel with military aid and voicing frustration with leader Benjamin Netanyahu as the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip mounts.

Israel has criticised the Security Council for previous resolutions that have not specifically condemned Hamas.

The October 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group on Israel resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures. 

The militants also seized 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.

Israel's military campaign in response to eliminate Hamas has killed at least 32,226 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The Security Council has been divided over the Israel-Hamas war since the October 7 attacks, only approving two of eight resolutions, which both mainly dealt with humanitarian aid.

And those resolutions seem to have had little effect on the ground, where UN personnel say Israel continues to block aid convoys as experts warn of looming famine.



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