New Delhi: In a dramatic turn of events, the UN Security Council, on its fifth attempt, has finally adopted a resolution demanding an extended humanitarian pause in the ongoing war in Gaza. This comes after the US, amidst escalating international dismay over the tragedy in the territory, decided to withhold its veto while expressing criticism. The resolution, adopted on Wednesday, also calls for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its attack on Israel on October 7 and advocates for a humanitarian corridor to transport relief supplies to Gaza.
Interestingly, Russia and the UK joined the US in abstaining from voting on the resolution, enabling its adoption with the support of the other 12 Council members, including France and China, the other permanent members. Despite the Security Council’s enforcement powers and the legally binding nature of its resolutions, this particular resolution is largely symbolic as it does not include any penalties for non-compliance.
The resolution, proposed by Malta, was a desperate attempt to prompt the Security Council to act on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where Israeli troops had seized a hospital after sustained bombing that, according to the Gaza health ministry, has resulted in more than 10,000 casualties.
This resolution comes 46 days after Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in approximately 1,200 fatalities and about 240 hostages, many of whom remain in captivity. Israel began its relentless bombing campaign the day after the attack and initiated a ground invasion this week.
The UAE’s Permanent Representative, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, expressed concern that the Security Council’s previous inaction on Gaza had created an impression of indifference and dismissiveness towards the carnage and suffering.
US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield, despite abstaining on the resolution, echoed a similar sentiment, stating, “I think many had given up hope that we would ever speak on this conflict. But that’s exactly what we just did.”
The resolution demands that “all parties comply with their obligations under international law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, especially children”. It also calls for the creation of a safe route for “full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access” to deliver relief supplies, including fuel, from the UN and aid organizations to the people of Gaza.
The resolution does not condemn Hamas or mention Israel’s right to defend itself, which the US has cited as the reason for vetoing the earlier resolution. Thomas-Greenfield expressed her horror that a few members of the Council still cannot bring themselves to condemn the barbaric terrorist attack that Hamas carried out against Israel on October 7.