The U.S. blocked the UN Security Council’s call for an immediate Gaza ceasefire while pressuring Israel to safeguard Palestinian civilians during a furious offensive against Hamas militants.
Increased Palestinian Casualty
Saturday saw Israel bombard the enclave from north to south, increasing the Palestinian casualty toll in the two-month-old conflict against Hamas. House-to-house combat is reported in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Gaza a “spiraling humanitarian nightmare” and declared that civilians were unsafe everywhere. Hours later, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution endorsed by most members calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. Washington was diplomatically isolated from the 15-member council after the decision. Thirteen members supported the UAE’s draft resolution, while the UK abstained. China’s permanent envoy to the UN, Zhang Jun, called the U.S. move “self-contradictory” and “hypocritical.” “An immediate ceasefire is the overriding prerequisite,” stated Zhang. No negative attitude is acceptable on this problem, no matter how much explanation. Condoning fighting while claiming to care about Gazans’ lives, safety, and humanitarian needs is self-contradictory.
Supporting fighting while urging conflict containment is self-deceiving. Hypocritical to condone fighting while promoting women’s and girls’ rights. All of this demonstrates double standard.” The U.S. and Israel reject a ceasefire because it would aid Hamas, which Israel has pledged to destroy after its October 7 cross-border offensive. Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood informed the council: “We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war.” Washington prefers “pauses” like the seven-day truce that freed Hamas hostages and increased humanitarian aid. The deal failed on December 1. British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward addressed the council, “Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law so that such an attack can never be carried out again.”
Israel: Ceasefire if They Will Return the Hostages
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN representative, said to the council “Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance.” Hamas political bureau member Ezzat El-Reshiq called the U.S. veto “inhumane.” According to Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan, “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.” Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said: “Once again, the U.S. government has shown that it is the principal participant in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians, especially women and children, and the damage of Gaza’s key infrastructure.” On Friday, the White House said Israel could do more to avoid civilian casualties and shared international worries about Gaza’s humanitarian crisis. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized Thursday that Israel must protect Gaza’s civilian population. Calling the situation “at a breaking point,” Guterres warned that Gaza’s humanitarian system might collapse, destroying public order. Most Gazans are relocated, hospitals are full, and food is scarce.
Locals and the Israeli military reported increased combat in the north, where Israel said its troops completed their mission last month, and in the south, where they launched a new operation this week. According to the Gaza health ministry, Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip claimed 17,487 lives on Friday. Al Aqsa Hospital announced early Saturday that it had received 160 wounded and 71 dead in the preceding 24 hours. On Friday, there were fresh strikes in Gaza City, Nusseirat, and Khan Younis. North Gaza residents reported increased Israeli tank fire on Friday night, while health officials verified that a Khan Younis airstrike killed at least ten people. After Hamas launched an offensive in southern Israel that resulted in 1,200 deaths and the capture of over 240 hostages, the Israeli military said that 94 Israeli troops had died fighting in Gaza since the ground invasion began in mid-October.