In its fifth attempt, the United Nations Security Council successfully passed a resolution on Wednesday, urging an extended humanitarian pause in the Gaza conflict. This significant development occurred as the United States, amidst international concerns about the ongoing tragedy, chose not to veto the resolution, expressing criticism instead.
The resolution, which also called for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its attack on Israel on October 7, emphasized the necessity of establishing a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the delivery of relief supplies to Gaza. Notably, Russia and the UK abstained from voting, allowing the resolution to gain approval with the support of the other 12 Council members, including France and China, the remaining permanent members.
While the Security Council's resolutions typically carry legal binding and enforcement powers, this particular resolution is primarily symbolic. It lacks penalties for non-compliance, making enforcement practically impossible. A proposed amendment by Russia, suggesting a "humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities" or a ceasefire, failed due to insufficient votes, with the US casting the sole vote against it.
The resolution, initially proposed by Malta, aimed to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where Israeli troops had taken control of a hospital following sustained bombings. The Gaza health ministry reported a death toll exceeding 10,000 people. The resolution came 46 days after Hamas' attack on Israel, resulting in approximately 1,200 casualties and the abduction of around 240 hostages, many of whom remain in captivity.
Israel responded with relentless bombing, initiating a ground invasion during the week leading up to the resolution's adoption. The United Arab Emirates Permanent Representative, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, and US Permanent Representative, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, both expressed concerns about the Security Council's delayed response, with Nusseibeh highlighting the perceived indifference to the suffering in the region.
While the resolution demands compliance with international law, particularly regarding the protection of civilians, it does not explicitly condemn Hamas or address Israel's right to self-defense. Thomas-Greenfield, while abstaining from the vote, expressed horror at the Council's failure to condemn Hamas' actions, emphasizing the terrorist organization's brutal attack on Israel.
The resolution further calls for the creation of a safe route to ensure rapid and unhindered humanitarian access for relief supplies, including fuel, from the United Nations and aid organizations to the people of Gaza. It advocates for a humanitarian pause in fighting, allowing for the safe delivery of relief, rescue efforts, and the repair of essential infrastructure.
In response to the resolution's passage, General Assembly President Dennis Francis has called for an informal meeting to discuss the Gaza situation. This move reflects the global concern and pressure to address the ongoing crisis in the region.