UN calls for ceasefire in Gaza as Israel and US widen rift

  • Recent developments
  • Israel says eight more soldiers have been killed in Gaza fighting, bringing its total to 114 since ground operations began

United Nations/Cairo/Gaza, Dec. 13 (Reuters) – Israel faced growing diplomatic isolation in its war against Hamas as the United Nations called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and U.S. President Joe Biden called for “indiscriminate” bombing of civilians in its longtime ally. Affected international support.

Three-quarters of member states voted in favor of a resolution calling for a ceasefire by the 193-member UN General Assembly on Tuesday, after dire warnings from UN officials about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian citizens,” the leaders of Canada, Australia and New Zealand said in a separate joint statement calling for a ceasefire.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolution and urged countries to pressure Israel to comply. An exiled Hamas official, Izzat El-Reshiq, echoed that reaction in a statement on Telegram, saying Israel must “stop its aggression, genocide and ethnic cleansing against our people.”

The United States and Israel voted against the move along with eight other countries, arguing that the ceasefire would only benefit Hamas.

Before the UN vote, Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said: “The cease-fire means one thing and one thing only – to ensure the survival of Hamas, to ensure the survival of genocidal terrorists engaged in the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Before the resolution, Biden said Israel now had support from “much of the world,” including the United States and the European Union, for its fight against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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“But they’re starting to lose that support with indiscriminate bombing,” he said at a campaign donor event in Washington.

In a public sign of the rift between the leaders so far, Biden said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must replace his hardline government and that Israel “can’t say no” to an eventual independent Palestinian state — something Israeli hardliners oppose. .

White House National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan will travel to Israel this week, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to the Middle East next week. Biden said Sullivan would emphasize America’s commitment to Israel and the need to protect civilian lives in Gaza.

Israel’s assault on Gaza to root out Hamas has killed at least 18,205 Palestinians, including many children, and wounded nearly 50,000 since October 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The conflict has led to starvation, the displacement of 85% of the population from their homes and the spread of diseases, according to the UN and the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Israel launched its offensive on October 7 after a cross-border attack by Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages in southern Israel. Israel announced that 19 of the 134 people still held captive in Gaza had died in their absence after two bodies were recovered. The hostages were rescued.

The UN resolution is non-binding but carries political weight, reflecting a global view of the war. The US vetoed a similar call in the 15-member Security Council last week but no veto in the General Assembly.

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Tuesday’s resolution received 153 votes in favor, 10 against and 23 against. In a sign of weakening support for Israel, a similar U.N. The resolution passed by a wider margin than the measure, with 121 votes in favor, 14 against, and 44 abstentions.

Israel has reportedly flooded the Gaza tunnels

Israel has expanded its offensive to the south since a temporary ceasefire collapsed on December 1 after attacking northern Gaza. Israeli tank shelling on Tuesday focused on the center of southern Gaza’s main city of Khan Younis, residents said.

Later in the night, Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis killed 11 Palestinians, including two children, health officials said.

Gazans said the shelling was the heaviest in days in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which borders Egypt, where the Israeli military said this month that civilians would be safe. Health officials said that 22 people, including children, died there.

Israel’s military attacked several positions used to fire rockets into its territory in the past day, raided a Hamas compound where it found about 250 rockets, along with other weapons, and struck a weapons factory.

Israel said on Wednesday that eight more soldiers had been killed in Gaza fighting, bringing the total to 114 since ground operations began on October 20.

Tawfiq Abu Briga, an elderly Palestinian, said his block of flats in Khan Yunis was hit without warning as Israeli airstrikes brought down several buildings and caused casualties.

“The conscience of the world is dead, there is no humanity or any kind of morality,” Briga told Reuters as neighbors sifted through the rubble. “This is the third month in which we meet with death and destruction.”

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The Wall Street Journal and ABC have reported that the Israeli military has begun pumping seawater into Hamas’ tunnel network, where the militant group is believed to be hiding fighters and ammunition and launching street attacks on Israeli troops.

Biden said he had heard unconfirmed reports that there were no hostages in the tunnels. Some of the hostages released during the ceasefire reported that they were trapped in the tunnel. The Israeli military said it was investigating the reports.

Report by Reuters Bureau; By Cynthia Osterman and Lincoln Feist; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A veteran reporter with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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