Israel-Hamas war: US vetoes Gaza cease-fire vote at UN

The US has said the proposed resolution "would not achieve lasting peace." Meanwhile, UN agencies warn Gaza is on the verge of an "explosion" in preventable child deaths

The US ambassador to the UN vetoes a Gaza cease-fire vote at the UN Security Council. (photo: DW)
The US ambassador to the UN vetoes a Gaza cease-fire vote at the UN Security Council. (photo: DW)


Israel says cease-fire 'not a magical solution' to region's problems

Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said that UN resolutions calling for a cease-fire were flawed and would not be a "silver bullet or a magical solution to all the region's problems."

"Will a cease-fire bring home the hostages ... will it eliminate Hamas?" Erdan told a meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, during which a new resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza was vetoed by the US. 

"A cease-fire achieves one thing, the survival of Hamas," he added. 

He said a cease-fire was a "death sentence" for many more Israelis and Gazans. 

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said the Palestinian people in Gaza are facing a "grave situation" faced as Israel carries on with it war against Hamas militants launched in response to the terror attacks on October 7. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by many governments, including the US, Germany and the EU. 

Mansour said a cease-fire needs to be implemented now and is the only way to save the lives of "1.5 million Palestinians in the Rafah district."

He said Palestinians were faced with "death and destruction, torment of starvation and repeated force displacement" on a daily basis.

Israel has said it will launch an offensive in Rafah by the start of Ramadan on March 10 if Hamas refuses to release the more than 100 hostages it continues to hold. The US, UN and Germany have all warned against a full scale attack on Rafah. 

US vetoes UN Security Council cease-fire resolution

The US on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. 

Thirteen council members voted in favor of the text, while the UK abstained. 

The resolution would not "achieve the goal of a sustainable peace and may in fact run counter to it," US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council after the vote concluded. 

She added that the cease-fire in the form that was called for "was wishful and irresponsible" and said the US would not support a resolution that would put "sensitive negotiations in jeopardy."

Nicolas de Riviere, the permanent representative of France to the UN, said it was regrettable that the resolution was not adopted "given the disastrous situation" on the ground in Gaza. 

He said there was "extreme urgency" to conclude an agreement on a cease-fire that would finally guarantee the protection of all civilians and a massive delivery of emergency aid. The French representative added that it was "incomprehensible and unacceptable" that the UNSC "still has not condemned the terrorist attacks" by Hamas. We "strongly deplore the situation."

The UK's representative, Barbara Woodward, urged that fighting in Gaza end "as soon as possible in a way that never again allows Hamas" to carry out appalling attacks.

Both the UK and France are among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that hold veto power. 

The draft resolution put forth by Algeria, the Arab representative on the council, demanded an immediate cease-fire and called for Israel and Hamas militants to "scrupulously comply" with international law especially the protection of civilians and reject the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield had already said in a statement the US would not vote for the resolution because the US had been working on a hostage deal for months and the resolution "may run counter" to that objective.

The US proposed a draft resolution instead, calling for a "temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable," which falls short of the wishes of most other Security Council members who want an immediate cease-fire.

In the draft counter-resolution, the US also warned against a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians displaced by the war have sought refuge.

South Africa urges ICJ to deem Israeli occupation 'illegal'

South Africa testified at the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, urging the World Court to deem Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories as "illegal" in a non-binding legal opinion the court is considering.

The UN's top court on Monday opened a week of hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

"A clear legal characterization of the nature of Israel's regime over the Palestinian people can only assist in remedying the ongoing delay and achieving a just settlement," Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, told the judges.

He said South Africa had a "special obligation" to call out "apartheid" wherever it occurs and ensure it is "brought to an immediate end."

"We as South Africans sense, see, hear and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against black people in my country," Madonsela added.

Some 52 countries are scheduled to testify at the ICJ in the case brought about after the UN General Assembly requested in 2022 that the court provide advisory opinion on Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories.

Israel is not attending the hearings but sent a written statement. It argued that an advisory opinion would be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

The advisory opinion will not be legally binding.

This week's hearings are separate from a case filed by South Africa at the ICJ against Israel for allegedly violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in its military operations in the Gaza Strip.

WHO says 32 'critical patients' transferred from Nasser Hospital

The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that its staff had led two "life-saving missions" to successfully transfer 32 critical patients from southern Gaza's Nasser Hospital, the enclave's second-largest hospital.

The transfers were conducted on February 18 and 19 in partnership with the Palestinian Red Crescent and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory, the WHO said in a statement.

Those transferred included two children, it said.

The WHO said the patients were moved to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza's central area, and the International Medical Corps, UAE and Indonesia field hospitals in Rafah in the south.

The transfers were conducted in response to calls by hospital staff after the facility became non-functional amid an Israeli military raid.

The WHO said an estimated 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 medical staff remain inside the facility. The organization expressed fears for their safety and well-being, adding that it was working toward facilitating the transfer of more patients.

"The dismantling and degradation of the Nasser Medical Complex is a massive blow to Gaza's health system," the WHO said. "Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity and are barely able to receive more patients."

Hospitals in the Palestinian territory have been a focal point of the war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Israel has raided medical facilities, saying that Hamas uses them to store weapons and hold hostages. Hamas denies those allegations.

Hospitals have special protections under international humanitarian law, although they can lose that protection if used to cause military harm to the other side. 

The United States and the European Union, among others, have listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Nearly 29,200 killed so far in Gaza, Hamas-run health authorities say

The ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip has thus far killed 29,195 people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Some 69,170 more people have been injured since the conflict erupted on October 7 last year.

In the past 24 hours alone, 103 Palestinians were killed, and 142 were injured, the ministry added.

The United Nations and multiple humanitarian organizations consider the death toll and casualty numbers provided by Gaza's Health Ministry to be broadly reliable.

Though the ministry does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths, around half of Gaza's 2.3 million inhabitants are children, and the UN says the majority of civilians killed have been women and children.

Israel orders new evacuations in Gaza City

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday ordered residents of two districts in Gaza City in the northern part of the strip to evacuate "immediately."

IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee said in a social media statement written in Arabic the evacuation calls were "for your safety." 

Residents of Gaza City's Zaytoun and Turkoman districts were asked to make their way to the Israel-designated humanitarian zone in al-Mawasi, which lies on the strip's western Mediterranean coast north of Rafah.

The Israeli military had earlier reported that northern Gaza was largely cleared of Hamas militants.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, Germany and several other countries.

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Published: 21 Feb 2024, 8:20 AM