UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has expressed deep concern over the tragic incident that unfolded in Gaza on Thursday when more than 100 Palestinians lost their lives, and several hundred sustained injuries as Israeli troops ope­ned fire on a food convoy.

The incident occurred at a large gathering surrounding a humanitarian assistance convoy southwest of Gaza City, with Israeli forces supervising the process.

A UNSC statement on Saturday evening called on “all parties to refrain from depriving the civilian population of the Gaza Strip of basic services and humanitarian assistance” and to urgently increase aid deliveries to the war-torn territory.

An earlier statement, which explicitly blamed the Israeli military for the disaster, was blocked by the US and replaced with softer language. A Russian attempt to insert text calling for a ceasefire was also denied.

In its latest statement, the council underscored the imperative to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, emphasising the obligation of all parties involved to comply with international law.

While acknowledging that Israel has initiated an investigation into the matter, the Security Council called for transparency and accountability in the process. The statement concluded by urging Israel “to keep the crossings open to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, to facilitate the opening of additional crossings to meet large-scale humanitarian needs, and to support the rapid and safe delivery of relief items to the population throughout the Gaza Strip.”

During the earlier session, Arab nations encountered significant resistance from the US as they sought support for the statement, accusing Israeli forces of intentionally targeting and killing Gazans.

The US Deputy Envoy to the UN, Robert Wood, emphasised the lack of complete information on the ground as a major challenge. “We don’t have all the facts on the ground. That’s the problem,” Wood stated following consultations with the 15-member council.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the UN, revealed that 14 members supported the statement drafted by Algeria. In the aftermath, Mansour held discussions with US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, urging the Security Council to condemn the killings and pursue those responsible for the alleged massacre.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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