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Finally, UNSC calls for Gaza ceasefire as US abstains

By Yoshita Singh
March 26, 2024 09:02 IST
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The United Nations Security Council on Monday passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the month of Ramzan, a breakthrough coming after more than five months since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Image only for representation. Photograph: Chip East/Reuters

The 15-nation Council adopted the resolution, put forth by the 10 non-permanent elected members of the Council, with 14 nations voting in favour, none against and an abstention by permanent member the United States.

'The Security Council just approved a long-awaited resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,' UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a post on X.

'This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable,' he said.


The resolution 'demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramzan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain'.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the resolution rightly acknowledges that, during the month of Ramzan, 'we must recommit to peace. Hamas can do that by accepting the deal on the table. A ceasefire can begin immediately with the release of the first hostage'.

"And so, we must put pressure on Hamas to do just that. This is the only path to securing a ceasefire and the release of hostages, as we have all called for today. That is what this resolution means, a ceasefire of any duration must come with the release of hostages. This is the only path," she said.

She said that with the adoption of the resolution, 'this Council spoke out in support of the ongoing diplomatic efforts, led by the United States, Qatar, and Egypt, to bring about an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, secure the immediate release of all hostages, and help alleviate the tremendous suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, who are in dire need of protection and life-saving humanitarian assistance'.

The US envoy said that the only path to a durable end to this conflict is the release of all hostages.

United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said her country has long been calling for an immediate humanitarian pause leading to a sustainable ceasefire without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life, as the fastest way to get hostages out and aid in.

"That is what this resolution calls for and why the United Kingdom voted yes on this text," she said.

Woodward voiced regret that this resolution has not condemned the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas on October 7. The UK condemns these attacks unequivocally.

"This resolution sets out the urgent demand for the unconditional release of all hostages. And we welcome the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States to this end," she said.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Guyana said that after more than five months of a 'war of utter terror and destruction', a ceasefire is the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and others.

"This demand [by the Council] comes at a significant time as Palestinians are observing the holy month of Ramzan," she said.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said that Israel needs to immediately respond to the UN Security Council resolution adopted today by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, ending the starvation of Gaza's population, and halting unlawful attacks.

"Palestinian armed groups should immediately release all civilians held hostage. The US and other countries should use their leverage to end atrocities by suspending arms transfers to Israel."

The adoption of the resolution comes more than five months after the latest conflict in Gaza erupted following the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel.

The Security Council, with its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, has remained deeply divided and has till now not been able to adopt any resolution on a ceasefire in Gaza.

According to an update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Between October 7, 2023, and March 25, at least 32,333 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and 74,694 Palestinians were injured.

Over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed in Israel, the vast majority on October 7, the day of the Hamas attack.

As of March 25, the Israeli authorities estimate that 134 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza, including fatalities whose bodies are withheld, the UN agency said.

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Yoshita Singh
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