US proposes UN Security Council oppose Rafah assault and back temporary ceasefire

Israeli military releases video footage of an Israeli mother and two young children shortly after they were kidnapped and taken to Gaza

The United States has proposed an alternative draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and opposing a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Washington has been averse to the word ceasefire in any UN action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the US draft text echoes language that president Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The US draft text, seen by Reuters news agency on Monday, “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighbouring countries.”

Israel plans to storm Rafah, where more than one million of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have sought shelter, prompting international concern that such a move would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.


The draft US resolution says such a move “would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

It was not immediately clear when or if the draft resolution would be put to a vote in the 15-member council. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China to be adopted.

The US put forward the text after Algeria on Saturday requested the council vote on Tuesday on its draft resolution, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield quickly signalled that it would be vetoed.

Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from UN action.

The Israel Defence Forces have released video footage of an Israeli mother and her two young children shortly after they were kidnapped and taken to Gaza following Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7th.

Shiri Bibas and her two children, aged four and 10 months, were kidnapped from kibbutz Nir Oz with their father Yarden, who was separated from the rest of his family.

Hamas informed Yarden in captivity that his wife and two children were no longer alive but the Israeli government has not been able to confirm this. Shiri and her two young children became a symbol of the hostage nightmare for Israelis.

The video clip, released on Monday, was taken from surveillance cameras in the southern city of Khan Younis and shows the gunmen covering Shiri with a cloth as she clings to her son Ariel, with her baby Kfir assumed to be under the cloth and strapped to her body, as he was during the kidnapping. They are then forced into a car and taken to an unknown destination.

With the fighting continuing in Khan Younis, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant has said Hamas’ brigade in the city has effectively been defeated. Israeli commandos are continuing to operate in the city’s Nasser hospital after claiming to have arrested some 200 militants in the facility. The hospital, which was the largest in southern Gaza, has effectively ceased functioning.

Israel says Hamas uses hospitals for cover. Hamas denies this and says Israel’s allegations serve as a pretext to destroy the healthcare system.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7th, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack and more than 250 kidnapped.

A Hamas official based in Qatar told Reuters that the group estimated it had lost 6,000 fighters. The figure is significantly lower than the 10,000 fighters Israel claims to have killed since the Gaza invasion, in addition to the approximately 1,000 who were killed inside Israel on October 7th during the Hamas attack and in the following days.

Meanwhile, Qatar has rejected the call by Mr Netanyahu to pressure Hamas to release the hostages. Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Dr Majed Al Ansari, said the comments were “nothing but a new attempt to stall and prolong the war,” alluding to claims that Mr Netanyahu fears a ceasefire will endanger the stability of his collation.

Israeli Arabs have reacted angrily to the decision by Israel to limit access to the Haram al-Sharif compound, the site of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s old city and revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Only Arab Israelis over the age of 40 will be allowed to worship at the site, under a ruling likely to apply for at least the first week of Ramadan.

Israeli Arab officials accused Mr Netanyahu of caving in to pressure from far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, against the advice of intelligence officials, who warned the move could increase tension over the Ramadan period.

On the northern border, Israeli jets destroyed two Hizbullah weapons storage depots close to the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, some 50 kilometres from the border. The attack came after a Hizbullah explosive-laden drone landed near the northern Israeli city of Tiberias, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem