Israel-Gaza: US quibbles on wording of UN ceasefire resolution with 27k dead and famine in Gaza – National & International News – FRI 22Dec2023

A watered-down UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to allow urgently-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza has just passed. The US and Russia both abstained in the vote. The US previously vetoed stronger language calling for an immediate end to hostilities despite mounting evidence of war crimes by Israel.

Israel-Gaza: US quibbles on wording of UN ceasefire resolution with 27k dead and famine in Gaza

For over a week, the US stalled a vote on a binding UN Security Council resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The vote took place minutes ago and the resolution passed, with abstentions from the US and Russia. The council repeatedly re-worked the resolution to find wording that the US would accept. This included removal of language calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a call for both sides in the conflict to adhere to international law.

The purpose of the resolution was never to call for a permanent cessation of hostilities. It merely called for a pause in Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza to allow in desperately needed humanitarian aid. It’s unclear whether Israel has any intention of letting up, having expanded its campaign into central Gaza today ahead of the vote. Given the passive language of the resolution, it’s also not clear how its goal of increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza will be implemented.

When recently asked why the US had repeatedly refused to support the UN’s call for a ceasefire, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller would only say that “details very much matter”

So here are some details.

Indiscriminate bombing, unlawful killings and mass starvation

Israel has been accused by critics of carrying out indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, including in areas it has previously designated as “safe zones” for civilians.  Investigation by the BBC found that the IDF routinely uses unguided munitions, including hundreds of 2000-lb. bombs in heavily populated areas.

According to Euro Med Monitor, which unlike UN and Gaza Health Ministry numbers counts those buried under rubble with no hope of rescue, Israel has killed over 27,000 people in Gaza since October 7. Among those are over 10,500 children and over 5,500 women. Of those killed, over 91% are civilians. Israel has killed over 400 people just the last 48 hours while the US was sweating out the details of the Security Council resolution. Health and aid workers fear that even those numbers will be eclipsed by the deaths from disease and starvation.

As of December 7, the UN’s World Food Program said over 576,000 Gazans were facing starvation. Those numbers have only climbed higher since. Nine in 10 people in Gaza are routinely going more than a full day without food. According to Human Rights Watch, this is by design. Citing statements of intention from Israeli officials, and the ongoing total blockade of Gaza, HRW has concluded that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, which is a war crime. 

The IDF has also struck nearly 300 schools, 176 mosques and 4 churches where displaced civilians sought safety.

The IDF not only bombs indiscriminately but carries out unlawful shootings. Last week, IDF soldiers killed three Israeli hostages who were shirtless and carrying white flags. One of the three men tried to hide, but they hunted him down and killed him as well. Israel has a track record of shooting at civilians carrying white flags in previous incursions.

Recently, Pope Francis condemned an IDF sniper attack which killed two Christian women, a mother and daughter, who were sheltering on the grounds of the Holy Family Church. The Pope likened the attack to “terrorism”.

Israel targets journalists, health staff, civil servants and intellectuals in Gaza

The IDF has been targeting individuals in Gaza whose mission is to reach the outside world to show what is happening on the ground. They’ve also targeted business leaders and intellectuals who would be key in helping to rebuild Gaza.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Israel of targeting journalists and their families. Since October 7, more than 68 journalists and media workers have been killed, along with members of their families. CPJ cited a “pattern of journalists in Gaza reporting receiving threats, and subsequently, their family members being killed”.

Today, the Director-General of Gaza’s Health Ministry was critically injured in an apparently targeted attack. Dr. Munir al-Bursh was sheltering at his sister’s home in Jabalia with his family. His 13-year-old daughter Jinan was killed. The Gaza Health Ministry is responsible for maintaining a tally of deaths in Gaza. The Ministry has continued publishing its counts, though with a slight delay due to IDF attacks on their infrastructure and personnel.

Dr. al-Bursh has led efforts to keep Gaza’s health system functioning despite the IDF onslaught. Since October 7, Israel has bombed 23 hospitals and 56 clinics in Gaza, as well as 51 ambulances. Over 222 doctors, nurses and other health workers have been killed. Yesterday in Jabalia, IDF soldiers kidnapped and tortured ambulance workers for the Palestinian Red Crescent. Human Rights Watch have called for Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s health system to be investigated as war crimes.

On December 8, internationally celebrated poet Rafaat Alareer was killed along with members of his family in what appears to have been a targeted attack. Since October 7, Alareer has regularly sent out videos talking about the situation in Gaza. After receiving numerous threats against his life from Israeli accounts, Alareer was hiding at his sister’s apartment on the 2nd floor of a three-story building. The IDF used a surgical strike targeting only the second floor. 

US agrees to back “essentially meaningless” resolution

Last night, the US representation at the UN finally agreed to accept the wording of this much watered down resolution. The resolution was so weak that the vote had to be delayed again so representatives from other member nations could call their superiors to decide whether this new resolution was even worth voting on.

Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani says, “any resolution that could make a meaningful difference in terms of the situation on the ground in the Gaza Strip is certain to be vetoed by the United States. And any resolution that the United States feels that it is able to support is going to be essentially meaningless for the besieged population”. 

Text condemning Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians was also removed from the resolution in order to appease the US. Additionally, UN sources say the US demanded the removal of language calling on all parties to the conflict to respect international law.

Israel’s collective punishment of all Gazans in the form of its total blockade, its indiscriminate bombing of civilians, and it use of starvation as a weapon of war all violate international law. Behind the scenes, Washington is also attempting to thwart efforts by other world leaders seeking inquiries into violations of the Geneva Conventions which govern the laws of war. 

In effect,” Rabbani says,”the US is voting for the continuation of the siege, for the continuation of the mass killings in the Gaza Strip. And most importantly, the idea of humanitarian assistance without a ceasefire is absolutely meaningless and illusory,” Rabbani said.

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