June 24, 2024

US Vetoes UN Ceasefire Resolution as Israel Pounds Gaza

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Dec 11, 2023

The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, drawing widespread international condemnation as the death toll in the coastal territory continues to mount.

Over 166 Palestinians Killed in Latest Strikes

According to health officials in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes overnight Saturday killed at least 12 Palestinians, bringing the death toll to over 166 since violence flared up late last week. Among the dead are at least 47 children and over 1,100 people have been wounded.

Israel says the airstrikes are targeting militant sites in Gaza in response to rocket attacks from Hamas and other groups. At least 15 Israelis have been killed by the rockets.

Table: Key Facts on Latest Israel-Hamas Violence

Death Toll Over 166 Palestinians, 15 Israelis
Injured Over 1,100 Palestinians, dozens of Israelis
Targets Hit by Israel Residential buildings, media offices, tunnels
Rockets Fired from Gaza Approximately 500

The violence comes amid heightened tensions in the West Bank and is the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since an 11-day war in May 2021.

Ceasefire Resolution Fails at UN Security Council

On Thursday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the escalating crisis. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made an impassioned plea for an immediate ceasefire.

“If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today,” Guterres told the Council.

The United Arab Emirates introduced a draft resolution that called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, provoking heavy debate. The United States, Israel’s closest ally, vetoed the resolution – the first time it has done so on a Israel-Palestine matter since 2016.

Of the 15 Security Council members, 14 voted in favor of the ceasefire resolution, while the US was the sole no vote.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield defended the decision, stating that the resolution would undermine efforts to de-escalate tensions. Israel applauded the veto, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanking the US for its support.

The failure of the ceasefire resolution prompted outrage from Palestinians, Arab states, and other international leaders:

  • The Palestinian UN envoy said it gave Israel “free rein to continue murdering entire families in their sleep”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron called it a “bad decision”
  • China’s foreign ministry accused the US of obstructing the Council from carrying out its duties
  • Human rights groups like Amnesty International said it displayed a “callous disregard for civilian suffering”

General Assembly to Hold Emergency Session

With the path at the Security Council blocked by the US, the General Assembly announced it will hold an emergency special session on Tuesday to vote on a non-binding resolution on the crisis.

While General Assembly resolutions are not legally enforceable like Security Council ones, they carry political weight as a representation of world opinion. The special session will allow member states to overwhelmingly condemn Israel and the US’ actions.

Over 100 countries have already backed the General Assembly meeting, called by the Palestinians and UAE. China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said that countries must “send a clear signal for ending violence, protecting civilians, and rightly resolving the Palestinian question.”

Though the resolution’s language has not been finalized, it is expected to be similar to the ceasefire demand brought to the Security Council. It remains unclear if the non-binding measure will lead Israel to change course.

Gaza Infrastructure Further Battered

Parts of Gaza’s infrastructure and public works continued to sustain heavy damage from the Israeli bombardment campaign. Local authorities said strikes damaged water pipes, sewage channels, and electricity lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without reliable access to water and power.

Several main roads have been destroyed and Gaza’s sole power plant had to shut down at times due to a lack of fuel. The territory’s fragile health system is also under severe strain dealing with the influx of wounded people.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the region said the lack of power and water meant “hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza are at risk of contracting life-threatening diseases.” He warned Gaza’s humanitarian situation is spiraling out of control.

With Gaza under blockade by air, land and sea by Israel and Egypt, getting aid supplies into the 140 square mile strip is difficult. Humanitarian groups are urging the secure opening of border crossings to allow vital food, fuel, and medical items to enter.

International Community Calls for Restraint

As ceasefire efforts falter and civilian casualties mount, much of the international community is strongly urging both sides to step back from further escalation.

UN chief Guterres said he will not give up seeking an end to the fighting, despite the US obstruction. The European Union, Britain, France, and other nations have also asked for restraint and calm to prevent more deaths.

Egypt and Qatar are working behind the scenes in shuttle diplomacy to broker a ceasefire deal between Israel and the militant groups. Previous flare-ups in violence have ended after Egypt negotiated an informal truce.

Inside Israel, the latest exchange of fire has set off violent unrest among the country’s Arab minority. Arab protesters across Israeli cities have expressed solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and anger over perceived harsh police tactics.

With over two hundred deaths in less than a week, there are fears the crisis could spiral into another all-out war if a ceasefire is not soon reached. All eyes are on the diplomatic maneuvering in the coming days to halt the bloodshed.

Background and Context

Spark Behind Latest Fighting

Tensions reignited in late March after Israeli forces conducted raids at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a sacred site for both Muslims and Jews. The operations were aimed at preventing suspected Palestinian militant activity, but resulted in injuries and deaths along with Palestinian outrage.

In response, Hamas and other Gaza groups fired rockets into Israel, triggering retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The air and rocket attacks since then are the worst between the two sides since their 11-day war in May 2021.

History of Conflict

Israel and Hamas, an Islamist political organization which governs Gaza, have fought four wars over the last fifteen years alongside intermittent skirmishes. Conflict ignites around Israeli policies toward Palestinians that militant groups find unacceptable.

Israel argues its actions are self-defense against Hamas and other threats to its security from Gaza. But critics say the mass casualties and economic chokehold on Gaza from the blockade amounts to collective punishment of civilians.

At the heart of the conflict is the question of Palestinian statehood and the demand for self-determination in territory captured by Israel in 1967. Multiple attempts over the decades at forging a two-state solution have failed.

What’s Next?

With the UN ceasefire resolution veto, attention shifts to see the results of backchannel negotiation efforts towards an informal truce, as well as the upcoming General Assembly emergency session.

  • If Egypt or other mediators can broker an understanding between the warring parties, violence may wind down without further Security Council action
  • The General Assembly vote will indicate global opinion, but its passage alone likely will not alter conditions on the ground
  • There are worries that if no ceasefire comes soon, another full-scale war could erupt leading to significantly more loss of civilian life

For now Israel appears determined to continue its air campaign to degrade Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s capabilities, though it remains to be seen how long major military operations will last without international pressure to desist.

Both the Israeli government and Palestinian militant groups face strong domestic pressures driving their actions and rhetoric. If underlying tensions over Israeli policies and Palestinian political rights are not addressed, it may only be a matter of time before the next round of open conflict despite any temporary truce.

International efforts for de-escalation and preventing a deepening of the humanitarian emergency among Gaza’s population continue, but a diplomatic breakthrough remains elusive.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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