International International pressure grows for a ceasefire in Gaza

International pressure is mounting on Israel to accept a ceasefire in Gaza as the army continues bombing the Palestinian enclave

International International pressure grows for a ceasefire in Gaza

International pressure is mounting on Israel to accept a ceasefire in Gaza as the army continues bombing the Palestinian enclave. The UN Security Council intensified negotiations this Tuesday to agree on the text of a resolution that will give way to a humanitarian truce. France, the United Kingdom and Germany joined global voices calling for a ceasefire. But the United States rejected the language reflected in the draft and at the time of going to press was debating "constructively" with the rest of the member states to soften it.

In parallel, negotiations have intensified with mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt to agree on a new release of hostages in exchange for a pause in the war like the one agreed in November. The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, declared this Tuesday that his country "is prepared for another humanitarian truce to make possible the release of hostages." However, the Hamas leadership poured cold water on it by rejecting a new agreement that does not contemplate an end to the war.

The vote in the Security Council, scheduled for Monday, was delayed to this Tuesday and then had to be postponed again to try to polish the reference to the "cessation of hostilities", which the United States rejects, and to try to allude to a call to the "suspension of hostilities", a term acceptable to Washington. The draft resolution proposed by the United Arab Emirates also takes note of the reopening of the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Gaza and Israel to make way for more humanitarian aid, emphasizing the need to "expand the delivery and distribution" of basic assistance .

In addition, it demands the "immediate and unconditional release" of Israeli hostages still held by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in the Strip. Of the 250 kidnapped in the terrorist group's bloody attack on October 7, 129 remain in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities. The text also calls for ensuring access to medical care for the Palestinian population.

This vote comes after 11 days ago the US used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council against a "humanitarian ceasefire", after the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, invoked Article 99 of the United Nations Charter. This heading offers the possibility of raising a threat to global security to the organization's Security Council. However, Guterres' efforts fell on deaf ears.

On December 12, meeting in an emergency session, the UN General Assembly - where no country has the right of veto - approved by 153 votes in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions a resolution expressing a call for "a halt to the humanitarian and immediate fire", the release of those kidnapped and access to humanitarian aid.

The UN envoy for peace in the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, offered his assessment to the members of the Security Council gathered in the room to warn them that this year 2023 has been "one of the deadliest in the history of this conflict." ", giving way to a situation that is "deteriorated on almost all fronts." According to Wennesland, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza presents "almost insurmountable challenges" with numbers of displaced people on an "unimaginable scale."

He also expressed his "deep concern" about the escalation of tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and urged the Israeli army to "exercise maximum restraint" in its operations, after emphasizing that the offensive on Gaza has caused an excessively high number of deaths and arrests. The fatalities from the Israeli bombings in the Palestinian enclave exceed 19,600, mostly women, children and adolescents.

Gaza experienced a new bloody day this Tuesday, with more than 200 fatalities, under the Israeli military onslaught. During the night, the attacks hit Rafah again (a town on the border with Egypt where the crossing through which humanitarian aid must pass is located) and Khan Yunes, also in the south of the Strip. Since the start of the offensive, Israeli military authorities have called on Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza and take refuge in the south. The bombings have occurred throughout the territory, the most densely populated in the world with only 365 square kilometers.

The Jabalia refugee camp (north) continued to be subjected to bombing, with a death toll of 27, according to sources from the Ministry of Health in Gaza, governed by Hamas, cited by Reuters. The United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, reported the death of 62 people in bombings on Sunday and Monday against the Al Shifa hospital, the most important in Gaza City.

Israeli forces raided another hospital, Al Ahli, overnight, according to St. George's Anglican Cathedral, which runs the hospital. In the attack, the front entrance wall was destroyed and most of its staff were detained, Pastor Don Binder told Reuters, except for two doctors, four nurses and two janitors. At that time there were more than a hundred patients. Yesterday afternoon, its director, Fadel Naim, announced that the clinic, which was already without water or electricity, has stopped working. Al Ahli was one of the last hospitals in service in the Strip.

The spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al Qidreh, stated yesterday that the Al Awda hospital (located in Jabalia) has been transformed into a military barracks for Israeli troops. The NGO Doctors Without Borders confirmed through the social network X (formerly Twitter) that Israel has taken control of this clinic. Dozens of patients are still there, including 14 children, the organization said, adding that the center had run out of essential medical supplies such as general anesthesia and oxygen.

Less than a third of the enclave's hospitals are partially operational, according to the UN.

In the center of the Strip, at least 15 people died during the early hours of the morning, including a woman and her four children who had sat around a fire to keep warm, according to a reporter from the American news agency AP.

"Gaza is the most dangerous place in the world for children," declared UNICEF spokesman James Elder upon his return from the Palestinian territory.