U.S., alone against the world, vetoes Security Council resolution on Gaza ceasefire – Mondoweiss

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Casualties

  • 17,487 killed*, including 7,729+ children, and 46,480 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • At least 273 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7.

*This figure was given by the Gaza Ministry of Health on December 8. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza) and the high number of people trapped under rubble, the Gaza Ministry of Health has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to or above 20,000.

Key Developments

  • The U.S. is the lone Security Council member to vote against a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, casting its veto despite nearly 100 states sponsoring the proposal.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who invoked Article 99 this week saying that the war was threatening international peace and security, said the situation had reached a “breaking point” and that Palestinian civilians were treated as “human pinballs” in Gaza forced to evacuate from one small area to the next with no aid. 
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the U.S. vote renders Washington complicit in Israel’s war crimes and calls for an international conference to achieve a political resolution. 
  • Doctors Without Borders calls the U.S. veto a “vote against humanity,” while major humanitarian organizations urge the Security Council to reconvene until a ceasefire is passed.
  • Dozens of U.N. experts warn that the United Nations “raison d’être” is at stake, calling on Member States to act collectively to “save Gaza from total destruction.” 
  • However, Joe Biden is reportedly asking Congress to sell tens of thousands of tank shells to Israel, with Israeli military officials estimating the “high-intensity phase” of the war could last until late January.
  • Israel continues to pummel the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds in the span of 24 hours.
  • The Gaza Ministry of Health says less than 1 percent of Gaza’s wounded have been evacuated for treatment abroad, and that many are dying from lack of access to medical care.
  • The Palestinian Olympic committee says Israel has killed 64 athletes since October 7. 
  • The International Criminal Court is accused of ‘alarming’ bias in favor of Israel, Al Jazeera reports. 
  • Israeli forces kill at least two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the span of 24 hours, and wound more during raids across the Palestinian territory.
  • Israeli strike kills three Hezbollah members in Syria, as it also launches intense strikes on southern Lebanese towns.
  • Hundreds gather in the Spanish town of Guernica to protest Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, drawing parallels to the city’s own bombardment by the Nazis in 1937, captured for posterity by Pablo Picasso.
  • Today marks the 36th anniversary of the beginning of the First Intifada, on December 9, 1987. 

U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution for Gaza ceasefire: ‘a vote against humanity’

To few people’s surprise, but amid widespread consternation, the United States chose on Friday to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution was brought forward by the United Arab Emirates and co-signed by 97 U.N. member states, after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the rare move to invoke Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the highest representative of the international body to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter that “threatens the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The U.S., Israel’s foremost ally and financial backer, was the lone country in the 15-member Security Council to vote against the resolution, with the United Kingdom choosing to abstain.


Speaking to the Security Council ahead of the vote, Guterres said: “We are at a breaking point.”

“The conditions for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid no longer exist,” he added, reiterating the devastated state of medical, shelter, infrastructure, and food systems in Gaza in what he called a “spiraling humanitarian nightmare.”

Guterres pushed back against Israel’s claims that its repeated calls for more than two million Palestinian civilians to evacuate to different parts of the small besieged enclave: “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs — ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival.”

“The people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. The international community must do everything possible to end their ordeal,” he added.

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the U.N. Riyad Mansour also addressed the Council.

“When you refuse to call for a ceasefire, you are refusing to call for the only thing that can put an end to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This is how Israel is conducting the war, through atrocities,” he said. “Israeli exceptionalism has to end, and it has to end now.”

“Stop rewriting international law to fit Israeli crimes and stop calling for respect for international law while supporting an assault that has torn it into shreds,” Mansour added.

Israeli representative Gilad Erdan meanwhile stuck to Tel Aviv’s talking points, saying Hamas was “solely responsible” for the humanitarian crisis caused by Israeli bombs, before invoking God. “I pray that we see another Hanukkah miracle here in the U.N., and that the almighty will allow the truth and light to prevail here in this council,” he said.

U.S. representative to the U.N. Robert Woods justified Washington’s decision — as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers —  to supersede the will of a majority of the world’s nations because the resolution allegedly did not condemn Hamas’ October 7 attack, nor assert Israel’s right to self-defense. “While the U.S. strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israel and Palestine can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire. This would only plant the seeds for the next war, because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace, to see a two-state solution,” he said, without mentioning the Israeli government’s historical record of making such a two-state solution impossible.

The Palestinian Authority denounced the U.S. veto, calling it “a failure to protect Palestinian civilians and a violation of international law and its rules regarding wars, as well as entrenchment of the double standards that discriminate among civilians in the world and selectivity in the applications of international law according to the identity of the executioner and the victim.” P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas meanwhile said the vote rendered Washington complicit in Israel’s war crimes.

The U.A.E’s Mohamed Issa Abushahab, like many other U.N. member state representatives, expressed regret that “in the face of an untold misery, this Council is unable to demand a ceasefire.” Numerous state officials from around the world have also denounced the U.S.’s position.

The Joint Arab Islamic Ministerial Committee, consisting of representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority, met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Friday, and “stressed their call on the United States to play a broader role in pressuring the Israeli occupation to implement an immediate ceasefire.” 

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs meanwhile expressed its “gratitude” towards Washington, and, in continuation of its calls this week for Guterres to lose his job, said the invocation of Article 99 constituted “mark of Cain on the UN” and amounted to an “appeal to stand on the side of Hamas.”

The American veto has provoked outcry from humanitarian and advocacy groups, and prompted Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to call it “a vote against humanity.”

“US veto of ceasefire resolution displays callous disregard for civilian suffering in face of staggering death toll. It is morally indefensible, a dereliction of the US duty to prevent atrocity crimes and a complete lack of global leadership,” Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Seven aid agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children, issued a joint call for the Security Council to reconvene and pass a resolution demanding a sustained ceasefire. “The only way for civilian lives to be protected and for adequate humanitarian assistance to be provided is for the fighting to stop,” the letter read.

Meanwhile, more than 40 U.N. experts sounded the alarm, saying that no less than the United Nations’ reason for being was at stake. “U.N. Member States must mobilise now and act collectively to save Gaza from total destruction and mass mortality, in order to preserve the raison d’être of the United Nations,” the experts said.

Seventeen member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) submitted a draft resolution to be considered by the international body’s executive council on Sunday, demanding that Israel respect its obligations to protect medical and humanitarian personnel in the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with Reuters, Abbas called on an international conference to reach a lasting solution and lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Yet, with reports that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress to approve the sale of 45,000 tank shells to Israel, the world’s pleas are falling on deaf ears.

An aerial picture shows displaced Palestinians who fled Khan Yunis due to Israeli air strikes setting up camp in Rafah further south near the border with Egypt, December 8, 2023. (Photo: © Mohammed Talatene/dpa via ZUMA Press APAimages)
An aerial picture shows displaced Palestinians who fled Khan Yunis due to Israeli air strikes setting up camp in Rafah further south near the border with Egypt, December 8, 2023. (Photo: © Mohammed Talatene/dpa via ZUMA Press APAimages)

In Gaza, bombs continue to fall, humanitarian situation ‘beyond belief’ 

As diplomats sparred with words in the hall of power, Palestinians continue to die in the hundreds daily in Gaza.

Deadly Israeli airstrikes were reported in Rafah, Khan Younis, Gaza City, Bureij, Nusseirat, Deir al-Balah, al-Maghazi, and Beit Lahia. The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that 133 bodies in total had been brought to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah and the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis alone. However, the presence of ground Israeli troops and the lack of proper rescue materiel has made it impossible to dig out people from under the rubble in some areas. 

The Palestinian Olympic Committee said on Friday that 47 Palestinian athletes and 17 sports coaches, administrators, and others had been killed by Israel since October 7.

Those who survive the onslaught face terrible odds.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said on Friday that, out of the more that 46,000 wounded Palestinians in the small territory, less than 1 percent had been able to leave through the Rafah crossing for treatment abroad. “We lose dozens of wounded every day as a result of the lack of treatment and delays in their exit from Gaza,” he said.

“With just a fraction of the needed food supplies coming in, a fatal absence of fuel, interruptions to communications systems and no security for our staff or for the people we serve at food distributions, we cannot do our job,” World Food Program (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau said on Friday after a visit to the Gaza Strip, of which he said “nothing quite prepared me for the fear, the chaos, and the despair we encountered.” 

“The situation is getting more and more horrible by the day… beyond belief, literally,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier meanwhile said on Friday. “The health system is on its knees. Gaza cannot afford to lose any more health facilities, another single ambulance, any more hospitals… or even a single hospital bed more.”

Fierce combat was reported by Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli ground forces in Jabalia, Deir al-Balah, various neighborhoods of Gaza City, and east and northeast of Khan Younis. Sirens were heard in towns in Israel’s Gaza envelope, northern Israel, and Tel Aviv.

Israeli media said Israeli forces carried out another failed hostage rescue attempt, the second one reported in two days.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, at least 420 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7.

Israeli military officials meanwhile told Axios they expected the “high-intensity” phase of the war in Gaza to last at least two more months, without specifying what might happen afterwards.

West Bank: At least two Palestinians killed

The situation remained tense in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian resistance groups reportedly attacking Israeli checkpoints and military posts near Jenin, Jabal al-Tur, and Awarta, wounding at least one Israeli. 

Other armed confrontations were reported in Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, Qabatiya, and Nablus’ old city.

Israeli forces shot and killed 25-year-old Sari Yousef Amr during an overnight raid in the town of Dura, south of Hebron, in which they detained his brother.

Rami Jamal al-Jundub, 25, meanwhile, succumbed on Saturday to wounds sustained a day earlier during an Israeli army raid in al-Faraa refugee camp, raising the toll to seven Palestinians killed by Israeli forces that day. Defense for Children International – Palestine meanwhile reported that a 14-year-old boy, Maher Abdullah Jawabra, was among those killed in al-Faraa after being shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

Israeli forces meanwhile fired live bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at a funeral procession in Beit Ummar, wounding at least one Palestinian teenager. At least two other Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire in the Ramallah-area village of Kafr Ni’ma.

In the village of Qarawet Bani Hassan in the northern West Bank, Israeli soldiers smashed a plaque recently erected in memory of Ahmed Assi, a 38-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli settlers on December 2.

In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces assaulted or otherwise prevented worshippers from reaching the Al-Aqsa mosque for the ninth consecutive week, WAFA news agency reported.

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