UNITED NATIONS, Dec 09 (APP): The United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza on Friday, despite moving calls for saving the lives of civilians in the bombed-out enclave.
Thirteen of the 15 Security Council members voted in favor of a draft resolution put forward by the United Arab Emirates with the co-sponsorship of 97 countries, including Pakistan, while Britain abstained.
Diplomats noted that the large vote in the Council leaves the US isolated as it shields its closest ally, Israel.
The vote came after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked a rarely-used UN Charter article 99 on Wednesday to formally warn the Security Council of a global threat from the two-month-long war.
“It’s not an issue about isolation. It’s an issue about what we think is best to try to end this conflict as soon as possible and also to help facilitate more humanitarian assistance going into Gaza,” US Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood said, rejecting the ceasefire calls.
“We can’t just snap our fingers, and the conflict stops. This is a very, very difficult situation,” he told reporters ahead of the vote.
The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they claim it would only benefit Hamas.
A seven-day pause that saw Hamas release some hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza was ended by Israel on December 1.
Ahead of the vote, the UN chief warned that there was a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, which would have devastating consequences.
The UN chief said public order could completely break down, increasing pressure for mass displacement across the border into Egypt.
“I fear the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region,” he said, adding that the occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen had already been drawn into the conflict to varying degrees.
There is clearly, in my view, a serious risk of aggravating existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security.”.
He said more than 130 of his colleagues had already been killed: “This is the largest single loss of life in the history of this organization.”Some of our staff take their children to work so they know they will live or die together.”
With most Gazans displaced and unable to access any aid, hospitals overrun, and food running out, the main UN agency there said society was “on the verge of a full-blown collapse” and its ability to protect people there was “reducing fast.”.
Residents and the Israeli military both reported intensified fighting in both northern areas, where Israel had previously said its troops had largely completed their tasks last month, and in the south, where they mounted a new assault this week.
Gaza’s health ministry reported 350 people killed on Thursday, bringing the death toll from Israel’s two-month campaign in Gaza to 17,487, with thousands more missing and presumed buried under rubble.
More strikes were reported on Friday morning in Khan Younis in the south, the Nusseirat camp in the center, and Gaza City in the north. egan.
An Israeli commander, Brigadier General Dan Goldfuss, said in a video message recorded in Khan Younis that his forces were fighting house to house and “shaft to shaft,” a reference to Israel’s claims of tunnel shafts in the enclave.
On its part, the U.S. also said it favors its own diplomacy rather than Security Council action to win the release of more hostages and press Israel to better protect civilians in Gaza.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged on Thursday that there was a “gap” between Israel’s intent to protect civilians and what has happened on the ground. Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 17,480 people have been killed.