UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in the relentless Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Gaza Strip for a “sufficient number of days” to allow humanitarian aid to the traumatised people.
The 15-member Council voted on the resolution, sponsored by Malta, with 12 members in favour, none against, and three countries abstaining — Russia, United States and United Kingdom.
The resolution also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas.
It is the first time the Security Council spoke out on the deepening crisis in Gaza after failing in its last four attempts when the UNSC was stymied by the actions of veto-wielding countries, Pakistan’s official news agency reported.
A pause is generally considered less formal and shorter than a ceasefire, which has to be agreed by the warring parties. The United States has backed pauses, while Russia has pushed for a ceasefire.
Wednesday’s resolution also does not condemn the actions of Hamas – a point of contention for Israel’s allies, United States, and Britain.
The council called “for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable … the full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access.”
The resolution adopted on Wednesday demands compliance with international law, specifically the protection of civilians, especially children. It also calls on all parties not to deprive civilians in Gaza of basic services and humanitarian aid needed for their survival, welcomes the initial, limited deliveries of aid but said much more was required.
UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but in practice, many parties, including Israel and India, choose to ignore the Council’s orders for action.
The Security Council, which has the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, has been paralysed since the war began by its internal divisions. This is especially the case between China and Russia, which want an immediate ceasefire, and the United States, which has called for humanitarian pauses but objects to any mention of a ceasefire, which its close ally Israel strongly opposes.
The resolution calls for humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a “sufficient number of days” for unhindered access by the UN, Red Cross and other aid groups to get water, electricity, fuel, food and medical supplies to all those in need. It says the pauses also should allow for the repair of essential infrastructure and enable urgent rescue and recovery efforts.