UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Gaza and demanded the immediate release of prisoners held by Hamas.

The compromise resolution, however, omits ceasefire calls and refrains from condemning Hamas for the Oct 7 raid. The decision aims to safeguard civilian lives in Gaza, where more than 11,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks.

On Thursday, UN human rights chief Volker Türk expressed support for the Security Council’s call for pauses in the Gaza unrest, emphasising the distressing situation: “Doctors operate on screaming children without anaesthetic, using mobile phones for light.” Türk appealed directly to both sides, urging them to lay down their weapons and prioritise a cessation of hostilities.

Mr. Türk condemned widespread targeting of civilians in the past five weeks and stressed the prohibition of attacks on hospitals, schools, markets, and collective punishment. He emphasised the need for accountability for gross rights violations.

Relief chief presents 10-point plan for hospitals, bakeries and desalination plants

On Wednesday evening, the Security Council finally managed an affirmative vote on the Gaza resolution with 12 votes. None of the 15 members voted against it, but three permanent members — Britain, Russia, and the United States — abstained. China and France voted for it.

The resolution calls for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” in Gaza for “a sufficient number of days” to allow full, rapid, safe, and unhindered access for UN agencies and partners. It also calls for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access” to them.

The council, through additional provisions, calls on all parties to refrain from depriving the civilian population in Gaza of basic services and aid indispensable to their survival, consistent with international humanitarian law.

The council rejected an amendment by Russia, calling for an immediate ceasefire, with five votes in favor, one against, and nine abstentions.

“Our vote today translates into real human lives,” said the ambassador of Malta, penholder of the newly adopted resolution.

UN emergency relief chief Martin Griffiths presented a 10-point plan, emphasising the provision of fuel for aid, hospitals, bakeries, and desalination plants.

Griffiths called on warring parties to heed the initiative, advocating for additional crossing points, including Kerem Shalom, and involving private sector suppliers in the plan.

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, stressed that the Security Council should have already called for a ceasefire, recognising the absence of a military solution. He accused Israel of planning the ongoing dispossession and denial of rights to the Palestinian people to complete the Nakba, urging the need to halt this “madness” and promote peace.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023

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