United Nations

Russia, China reject U.S.-led Gaza ceasefire resolution at the UN

Author: Editors Desk Source: CBC News:
March 22, 2024 at 09:57
A boy holds a tray with food as he walks near destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza, on Friday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
A boy holds a tray with food as he walks near destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza, on Friday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
Israeli military says it has detained hundreds in Gaza hospital raid, including some senior militants

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday for talks aimed at ensuring more aid flows into Gaza, as a UN Security Council session saw a U.S. ceasefire resolution on the agenda quickly failing.

Blinken had said he would share alternatives to Israel's planned ground assault into the southern Gaza town of Rafah during talks with Netanyahu and his war cabinet, amid increasingly tense relations between the two allies over the six-month-old war.

The United Nations Security Council voted Friday on a U.S.-sponsored resolution declaring "the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire" in the Israel-Hamas war.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the UN, urged council members to approve the resolution.

"We want to see an immediate and sustained ceasefire as part of a deal that leads to the release of all hostages being held by Hamas and other groups, and that allows much more life-saving humanitarian aid to get into Gaza," she said.

Smoke is shown rising in a clear sky in a distance photo showing a city skyline of low-rise buildings, several which appear to be damaged.
Smoke from Israeli bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip is seen from southern Israel on Friday. (Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters)

The draft resolution was part of an apparent American toughening toward its ally. Earlier in the war, the U.S. was averse to the word ceasefire and vetoed measures that included calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia's ambassador to the UN, immediately seized on what he said was hypocrisy and a "sluggish thought process" from the Americans, "who four times, in cold blood, cast a veto in this chamber."

Nebenzya's deputy, Dmitry Polyansky, said a day earlier that Moscow would not be satisfied "with anything that doesn't call for an immediate ceasefire. He questioned the wording of the draft.

"What's an imperative? I have an imperative to give you $100, but it's only an imperative, not $100."

China joined Russia in vetoing the resolution. Eleven countries voted in favour and Algeria abstained. Canada is not a member of the security council.

Thomas-Greenfield called the rejection "petty," stressing that the U.S. had consulted with all council members on the resolution.

Blinken cautiously optimistic on talks

So little food has been allowed into Gaza that up to 60 per cent of children under five are now malnourished, compared with fewer than one per cent before the war began, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

Palestinian militants led by Hamas killed some 1,200 people including several Canadians in the surprise Oct. 7 attack. The Israeli government tallies also indicate some 130 of 250 hostages remain in Gaza since October, but that at least 31 have been confirmed as dead. Over 100 people were repatriated in exchanges for Palestinian prisoners late last year.

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The Health Ministry in Gaza on Thursday raised the territory's death toll in Israel's war response since Oct. 7 to 31,998 Palestinians. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

David Barnes, Israel's spy chief, was due to travel to Qatar on Friday for ceasefire negotiations centred on a truce of around six weeks that would allow the release of 40 Israeli hostages in return for hundreds of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, paving the way for more aid to enter Gaza.

Blinken said on Thursday in Cairo that he believed the "gaps are narrowing" in the talks mediated by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt.


Hundreds detained in hospital raid

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have detained hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters including a number of security officials and military commanders during its extended raid into Gaza's main hospital, the military's main spokesperson said.

Israeli troops entered the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in the early hours of Monday morning and have been combing through the sprawling complex, which the military says is connected to a tunnel network used as a base for Palestinian fighters.

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It says troops have killed hundreds of fighters and detained over 500 suspects, including 358 members of the Islamist militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the largest number since the beginning of the war nearly six months ago.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel's main military spokesperson, said special forces units had severely damaged Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Among the detainees were three senior Islamic Jihad military commanders and two Hamas officials responsible for operations in the occupied West Bank as well as other Hamas internal security officials.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Israel's plans for the detainees were not immediately clear.

Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip's biggest hospital before the war, is now one of the few health-care facilities even partially operational in the north of the territory, and had also been housing displaced civilians.

Israel faced heavy criticism last November when troops first raided the hospital. The troops uncovered tunnels there, which they said had been used as command-and-control centres by Hamas. Hamas and medical staff deny that the hospital is used for military purposes or to shelter fighters.

In recent days, Hamas spokespeople have said that the dead announced in previous Israeli statements were not fighters but patients and displaced people and have accused Israel of war crimes.

Reuters has been unable to access the hospital and verify either account.

Hospitals are protected buildings under international humanitarian law. But allegations that Al-Shifa is also being used for military purposes complicated the situation because that would also breach international law, UN officials have said.

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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