Israel intensifies war in and around Gaza as US vetoed a UNSC resolution on ceasefire - as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 8 Dec 2023

On the 63rd day of the war on Gaza, Israel pressed on with war in and around Gaza's main cities. The Security Council was also meeting after UN chief Antonio Guterres took the unprecedented step of invoking the Charter's Article 99, allowing him to convene the council for "any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security".

Palestinians rescue a woman from a destroyed building by Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip , 2023 AP


22:52 As expected, the US veto blocked a UNSC resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

With 13 votes in favor and one abstention from the UK, the US, as a permanent member, stood as the sole nation opposing the resolution.

The UAE's representative said he is "deeply disappointed" by the outcome of the vote.

"Let me be clear - against the backdrop of the secretary-general's grave warnings, the appeals by humanitarian actors, the world's public opinion, this council grows isolated."

Russia slamed the US and UK for respectively voting against and abstaining from the vote to support a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza, stating they are "complicit to merciless Israeli bloodbath", The Guardian reported.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, deputy charge d’affaires of the Russian Federation, told the UN security council after the vote failed.

"One can speak cynically with nice empty words about democracy, human rights, women, peace, security, rules, order, as much as you like. However, the real value of those we have just witnessed when two members of the security council preferred to remain complicit to the merciless Israeli bloodbath," he said.

22:30 The people of Gaza are looking into the abyss, UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

"I urge the Security Council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, for the protection of civilians & the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid," he added.

Read his full remarks to the Security Councit here.

22:00 The UK's ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward has called the number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza "shocking" ahead of a vote on whether to support an immediate ceasefire.

She told the UN Security Council that mass displacement of the population "cannot continue".

21:50 At least 10 people have been killed in an Israeli strike on a family home in Khan Younis, the Reuters news agency reports.

"Many" more are said to be injured, health officials in Gaza said.

21:15 Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said "inaction" of the UN Security Council to date to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, as well as vetoes from member states including the US, "make them complicit in the ongoing slaughter" in the region.

MSF has urged the Security Council to demand an "immediate and sustained ceasefire" ahead of a delayed vote on the issue.

Christopher Lockyear, the head of the group said the current supply of aid is "performative" and "nothing compared with the needs".

"There needs to be some chance of survival; our doctors can do nothing for the dead," he said.

"Failure to act now, to enact a total ceasefire and end the siege, would be unforgivable."

19:32 Saudi Arabia foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan said it does not seem to be a priority for the international community to end the war in Gaza.

"One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn't seem to be the main priority," he said from Washington DC.

He was speaking at the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and its meeting with US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The Saudi minister added there should be a road map to establish a Palestinian state.

"We also need to see a significant ramping up of humanitarian aid."


19:05 The American administration has imposed restrictions on Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki limiting his ability to engage with media or respond to questions, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters Friday in Washington.

He was banned from publicly speaking as a prerequisite for obtaining a US visa to attend the UN meetings.

The Saudi minister said: "There is a speech ban in the visa issued by the USA."

If he talks "there will be sanctions," the minister added.

18:00 Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, warned in a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly that humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of collapse."

"In my 35 years of work in complex emergencies, I have never expected to write such a letter, foreseeing the death of my staff & the collapse of the mandate I am expected to fulfill," wrote Lazzarini.

"The premise of UNRWA's mandate, to provide services to Palestine Refugees until there is a political solution, is at great risk," he added.

"Today, as a result of Israel's military operation, nearly 1.2 million civilians are sheltering in UNRWA premises. The agency has become the primary platform for humanitarian assistance to over 2.2 million people in Gaza, a platform on the verge of collapse."

In the letter, Lazzarini urged all UN member states to "take action to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire," in the strip warning of an "irreversible disaster."

"To prevent such an irreversible disaster, I urge you, as President of the General Assembly, and through you the member states, to take immediate action to (i) implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire; (ii) enforce international law, including the protection of civilians and UN staff, as well as UN premises, hospitals, and public buildings that provide safe shelter from attacks, disease, deprivation, and indignity; and (iii) protect prospects for a political solution that is vital to peace, security and rights for Palestinians, Israelis and the region."

The letter comes as Israel pushes forward with its air and ground invasion of Gaza that has killed more than 17,000 people, mostly women and children, and displaced 1.9 million (80 percent of the population) from their homes.



17:20 UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres says there is a "complete lack of safety and security" for his staff in Gaza, who are facing an "unprecedented threat" during a UN Security Council emergency meeting on the catastrophic situation in Gaza, Sky News reported.

Some 130 UN staff have already been killed, many with their families, Guterres said.

This represents the "largest single loss of life in the history of our organization", he noted. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on December 8, 2023 AFP

Some staff are taking their children to work with them so they can live or die together, he added.

There is no way to mitigate the dangers short of evacuating staff - and they are "committed to stay and deliver for the people of Gaza," Guterres said. 

The situation is now "untenable" and "conditions for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid no longer exist," he concluded.

17:15 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told Israeli officials he expects their war in Gaza to be brought to close within a month, sources told The Times.
Biden expects the war to be wrapped up within three months of October 7.

17:00 The Gaza health ministry said the death toll in the war on Gaza has risen to at least 17,487 in the Palestinian territory.

Announcing the new figure, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said: "Every day we are losing dozens of wounded due to a lack of care and delay in getting them out of Gaza."

15:00 The World Health Organization warned that Gaza's health system is on its knees and cannot afford to lose another ambulance or a single hospital bed more. 

"The situation is getting more and more horrible by the day... beyond belief, literally," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a press briefing in Geneva.

"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."



The United Nations' humanitarian agency OCHA said late on Thursday that only 14 of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip were functioning in any capacity.

The statement comes as Israel is pushing forward its brutal invasion of the strip that has killed 17,177 people, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Weeks of near-constant Israeli bombardment have reduced vast areas of Gaza to wasteland.

The UN says about 80 percent of the population has been displaced, facing shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine, along with the threat of disease.

"Children and people begging and crying for water -- we're at that level, where the most normal and basic supplies are not available any more," Lindmeier said.

"Right now the calculation for Gaza is one to two litres of fresh water a day -- that's water for everything, not only for drinking.

"People are starting to cut down telephone poles to have a little bit of firewood to keep warm or maybe cook, if they have anything available.

"Civilisation is about to break down."

14:37 Al-Qahira News TV channel reported that 50 humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

Additionally, seven injured Palestinians from Gaza have arrived in Egypt to receive medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

It also added that three fuel trucks, loaded with 90,000 litres of diesel fuel are set to enter Gaza through Rafah crossing.

14:00 Hamas' military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, announced that a captured Israeli soldier Sa'ar Baruch, 25, was killed in a botched rescue operation by Israeli special forces early on Friday. 

During the operation, Qassam fighters clashed with the Israeli forces at dawn, killing and injuring several who were forced to retreat under military aircraft cover.

The group added that they seized a rifle and a communication device in the clashes.





11:15 Israeli forces shot dead six Palestinians in a raid on a refugee camp in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The ministry, updating an earlier toll of five dead, did not identify them but said they had been killed "by bullets from the occupation (Israel) in the Al-Fara refugee camp" near Tubas.

"Clashes escalated with the (Israeli) forces who stormed the camp amid intense fire and the blasts of explosions," said the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.



11:00 The UN Security Council will meet on Gaza under acute pressure from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and will vote on urging an immediate ceasefire as Israel's war on the Gaza Strip enters its third month.

In a letter to the council on Wednesday, Guterres took the extraordinary step of invoking the UN charter's Article 99, which states that the secretary-general may bring to the attention of the council "any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security."

No one in his job had done this in decades.

Guterres wrote: "Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible."

He called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" to prevent "a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians" and the entire Middle East.

10:00  Israeli forces have encircled major urban centres. Backed by air power, tanks and armoured bulldozers, Israeli troops are fighting in Khan Yunis, the biggest city in southern Gaza, as well as in Gaza City and Jabalia district in the north.

The Palestinian health ministry reported another 40 dead in strikes near Gaza City, and dozens more in Jabalia and Khan Yunis.











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