'Spiralling humanitarian nightmare' in Gaza decried; US blocks UN demand for ceasefire
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Key Points
  • The US vetoed a UN Security Council call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
  • The brief draft resolution, put forward by the UAE, was supported by 13 Security Council members.
  • Most Gazans are now displaced and unable to access any aid, as a result of Israel’s bombardment.
The United States has vetoed a UN Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, diplomatically isolating Washington as it shields its ally.
Thirteen Security Council members voted in favour of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained.
The Israeli military said it had struck more than 450 targets in Gaza from land, sea and air over the past 24 hours — the most since collapsed last week and about double the daily figures typically reported since.
Decrying a “spiralling humanitarian nightmare”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared that nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians, hours before the Security Council vote.
“We are at breaking point,” he told the UN Security Council, saying the collapse of the humanitarian system could result in a complete breakdown of public order.

“The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival,” he said, referring to Israeli instructions to civilians to move to safe areas.

In Washington, the White House on Friday said more could be done by Israel to reduce civilian casualties and the US shared international concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
“We certainly all recognise more can be done to try to reduce civilian casualties,” White House national security council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
With most Gazans now displaced and unable to access any aid, hospitals overrun and food running out, the main UN agency there said society was “on the verge of a full-blown collapse” and its ability to protect people there was “reducing fast”.
Residents and the Israeli military both reported intensified fighting in both northern areas, where Israel had previously said its troops had largely completed their tasks last month, and in the south where they mounted a new assault this week.

Gaza’s health ministry on Friday said the total number killed since 7 October had risen to 17,487, with thousands more missing and presumed buried under rubble. More strikes were reported on Friday morning in Khan Younis in the south, the Nusseirat camp in the centre and Gaza City in the north.

On Friday evening, residents reported intensified Israeli tank fire on the districts of Shejaia, Nafaq, Sabra and Jala in north Gaza, while health officials said at least 10 people were killed in an air strike on a house in Khan Younis.
Israel launched what it says is a campaign to destroy Hamas after the Islamist militant group’s bloody 7 October cross-border raid, in which more than 1,400 people were killed, according to the Israeli government, and over 200 hostages taken.
Since then, most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes. With fighting now going on across both halves of Gaza, residents say it has become almost impossible to find refuge.
While the US has backed in the fighting to allow for the release of hostages and delivery of aid, it has refused to join international calls for a ceasefire, saying that would only give Hamas time to regroup and rearm.

Israel says it is providing detail about which areas are safe and how to reach them, and says Hamas is to blame for harm that befalls civilians because it operates among them, an accusation the Islamist group denies.

Israel’s chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Israel had detained more than 200 suspects from Gaza in the last 48 hours and that dozens of them were taken to Israel for questioning, adding Hamas commanders were among them.
Hamas’ armed wing said it had thwarted an attempt to free a captured Israeli soldier, which it said resulted in his death, and that Israeli bombing over Gaza had resulted in the death and injuries of other Israeli hostages.
Hamas is a Palestinian military and political group, which has gained power in the Gaza Strip since winning legislative elections there in 2006. Its stated aim is to establish a Palestinian state, while refusing to recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Hamas, in its entirety, is designated as a terrorist organisation by countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. New Zealand and Paraguay list only its military wing as a terrorist group. In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly voted against a resolution condemning Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.

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