Israel-Hamas war: US vetoes UN resolution demanding humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

World Food Programme pauses aid deliveries, Israeli military orders two neighbourhoods of Gaza City to evacuate

The United States has vetoed an Arab-backed and widely supported UN resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, arguing that the deal would interfere with negotiations on a deal to free hostages abducted in Israel.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining, reflecting the strong support from countries around the globe for ending the more than four-month war, which started when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel last October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage.

Since then, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which says the vast majority were women and children.

It was the third US veto of a Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and came a day after the United States circulated a rival resolution that would support a temporary ceasefire in Gaza linked to the release of all hostages and call for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.


Virtually every council member – including the US – expressed serious concern at the impending catastrophe in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge, if Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with his plan to evacuate civilians from the city and move Israel’s military offensive to the area bordering Egypt, where Israel claims Hamas fighters are hiding.

Before the vote, Algeria’s UN ambassador Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council, said: “This resolution stands for truth and humanity standing against the advocates for murder and hatred.”

He said vote in favour of the draft resolution is a support to the Palestinians’ right to life. “Conversely, voting against it implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted against them.”

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the White House understands the council’s desire for urgent action but believes the resolution would “negatively impact” sensitive negotiations on a hostage deal.

The defeated Arab-backed resolution would have demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to be respected by all parties, which implies an end to the war.

By contrast, the US draft resolution would underscore the Security Council’s support for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released”, and call for “lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale”.

It is the first time the US has used the word “ceasefire”, as opposed to cessation of hostilities.

Meanwhile, Israel’s military ordered two neighbourhoods of Gaza City to evacuate on Tuesday amid signs of hunger and mounting desperation in the northern part of the enclave as the focus of Israel’s offensive has shifted south.

The evacuations came as the World Food Programme halted deliveries in the northern Gaza Strip, describing scenes of chaos as its teams faced looting, hungry crowds and gunfire in recent days.

The fiercest fighting and most intense bombing has in recent weeks shifted south to areas around Khan Younis and Rafah. But the evacuation order from Israel’s military for the Zaytoun and Turkoman neighbourhoods of Gaza City raised the possibility of further military moves in the north.

Northern Gaza has been decimated by four months of bombardment, and continued fighting there between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters has severely hindered deliveries of aid to the estimated 300,000 people still in the area, who the United Nations has warned face starvation.

The WFP had suspended its deliveries for the past three weeks because of safety concerns. On Sunday, it tried to restart them but “crowds of hungry people” surrounded the initial convoy as it was going to Gaza City and aid workers were forced to fend off people trying to climb onto the trucks, the organisation said in a statement.

Another convoy on Monday “faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order,” the statement added, saying that several trucks were looted and a driver was beaten.

The WFP said it did not take the decision to suspend deliveries in Gaza’s north lightly, adding that it means “more people risk dying of hunger.”

- New York Times/AP