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UN Security Council demands Gaza aid deliveries 'at scale'

UN Security Council demands Gaza aid deliveries 'at scale'
December 23, 2023 Web Desk

UNITED NATIONS (APP) - The United Nations Security Council approved on Friday a watered-down resolution that demands all sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict allow the "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale."

After days of delays, the resolution also called for the creation of "conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities" but did not call for an immediate end to fighting. Russia and the United States, which both could have vetoed the measure as permanent members of the council, abstained, meaning it passed with 13 votes in favor.

Nonetheless, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the resolution "a strong step forward." "This council provided a glimmer of hope among a sea of suffering," she said. UN chief Antonio Guterres said in the wake of the vote that Israel's offensive was the "real problem" to getting aid shipments into Gaza, as he reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Palestinian militant group Hamas said the resolution was "insufficient" and "does not respond to the catastrophic situation created by the Zionist (Israeli) war machine." The Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said using humanitarian aid "as a method of war has to end now."

"You need to stop the killer to save the patient," he said, calling the resolution a "step in the right direction." Diplomatic wrangling at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan -- causing the vote to be postponed several times this week -- has come against the backdrop of deteriorating conditions in Gaza and a mounting death toll.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya condemned the United States for "blocking an extremely weak call for cessation of hostilities." "If this document weren't supported by a number of Arab states we would of course have vetoed it," he said.

'Not a perfect text' 

The United Arab Emirates sponsored the resolution, which was amended in several key areas to secure compromise. The UAE's ambassador to the UN Lana Zaki Nusseibeh said "it responds with action to the dire humanitarian situation."

"We know this is not a perfect text... We will never tire of calling for a humanitarian ceasefire," she said. The resolution demands all "routes to and throughout the entire Gaza Strip, including border crossings" be open for humanitarian aid. It also requests the appointment of a UN humanitarian coordinator to oversee and verify third-country aid to Gaza.

An earlier text had said that the aid mechanism to accelerate the delivery of relief would be "exclusively" under UN control. It now states it would be managed in consultation with "all relevant parties" -- meaning Israel would retain operational oversight of aid deliveries.

Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but many are ignored -- including by Israel. After the UN vote, Israel said it would keep inspecting all Gaza aid "for security reasons", and Israel's ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said "the UN cannot be trusted to monitor the incoming aid."

Erdan thanked Washington for "maintaining defined red lines." Members of the 15-member Security Council grappled for days to find common ground on the resolution, as criticism mounted over the body's lack of action since the start of the war. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week there would be no ceasefire in Gaza until the "elimination" of Hamas.

Rights group Amnesty called the resolution "woefully insufficient in the face of the ongoing carnage and extensive destruction wrought by the government of Israel's attacks." The tussle over the resolution came as the UN's hunger monitoring system warned "every single person in war-torn Gaza is expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity in the next six weeks."

Hamas infiltrated Israel on October 7 and killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, while taking about 250 people hostage, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures. Israel has responded with a relentless air and ground campaign. The Hamas government's media office in the Gaza Strip said Friday that 20,057 people have been killed, among them 8,000 children and 6,200 women.