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Russia, US, UK abstain from UN Sec Council vote on ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Gaza

16th Nov 2023
Russia, US, UK abstain from UN Sec Council vote on ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Gaza

By Serife Cetin and Iclal Turan

NEW YORK (AA): Three permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, the US and the UK — abstained Wednesday from voting on a draft resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” throughout Gaza. 12 countries voted for the resolution which was spearheaded by Malta.

In addition to calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days” to allow humanitarian access into Gaza, the Malta-led resolution also calls for the release of all hostages being held by Hamas and other groups, especially children.

It also demanded all parties to comply with international law, including international humanitarian law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, especially children.

The resolution called on all parties to “refrain from depriving the civilian population in the Gaza Strip of basic services and humanitarian assistance indispensable to their survival, consistent with international humanitarian law.”

It underscored the importance of coordination, humanitarian notification and deconfliction mechanisms to protect all medical and humanitarian staff and vehicles, including ambulances, as well as critical infrastructure, including UN facilities.

It also asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “report orally to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution at the next mandated meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East.”

“I’m horrified that a few members of this council still cannot bring themselves to condemn the barbaric terrorist attack that Hamas carried out against Israel on Oct. 7,” US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council.

“The United States will continue to urge this council to condemn Hamas. Although the United States is deeply disappointed by what is not in this text, we support many of the important provisions this Council has adopted,” she added.

Barbara Woodward, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, said the UK “regrets” that the first resolution passed by the Council “could not clearly condemn” Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack.

Woodward said it is right that the Security Council calls for a humanitarian pause for a period of days, noting it needed to “establish a safer environment for humanitarians.”

“This will save lives. We need it as fast as possible,” she added.

Vasily Nebenzya, the representative of Russia to the UN, said the reason Russia did not vote in favor of the resolution is the “lack of a call for an immediate cease-fire.”

“This was, and remains, the top imperative. Any humanitarian actions require an immediate end to the fighting,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Council rejected Russia’s proposal to amend the resolution to include “a durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected a resolution on Wednesday that was passed by the UN Security Council which called for “extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” in Gaza.

In a statement cited by the Haaretz newspaper, the ministry said “there is no place for extended humanitarian pauses” as long as hostages are being held by the Palestinian group Hamas.

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, also described the resolution as “detached from reality,” as it does not condemn Hamas over its attack launched against Israel on Oct. 7.

The resolution followed four failed attempts of voting at the UN Security Council regarding the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Oct. 7.​​​​​​​

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Oct. 7.

The government media office in Gaza on Wednesday announced that the death toll from Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 has risen to 11,500, including 4,710 children and 3,160 women.

“The number of deaths among medical personnel has reached 200,” the office said in a statement on Telegram.

It further said that 22 civil defense personnel and 51 journalists have also been killed, while the number of injured people has reached 29,800, with about 70% of them women and children.

Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques and churches, have also been damaged or destroyed in Israel’s relentless air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave since last month.

The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is around 1,200, according to official figures.

[Photo: Injured Palestinian child by Israeli bombing with amputed leg being treated at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza Strip on 15 11 23. Photojournalist Montaser Alswaf /AA]

 

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