Russia & China veto US draft resolution at UNSC not calling for immediate ceasefire; Israel continues pummeling Gaza - Day 19 as it happened

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 Oct 2023

Israel escalated its bombardment across the Gaza Strip for the 19th day; more homes were destroyed; the Palestinian death toll climbed to 6,500 and 17,400 wounded; Sisi warned against an Israeli ground invasion; Macron is sending a French navy ship to aid Gaza hospitals.

Gaza Strip
Medics treat children wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in a hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. AP


23:30 Russia and China used their veto right in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday against a draft resolution submitted by the United States on the current conflict in the Gaza Strip because it did not call for an immediate ceasefire.

"We strongly reject the US draft resolution because it does not call on the parties in the conflict to an immediate ceasefire," the representative of China to the UN said in a statement at the UNSC meeting.

10 members of the UNSC voted for the US resolution - the US, the UK, France, Japan, Switzerland, Albania, Malta, Gabon, Ghana, and Ecuador.  Mozambique and Brazil abstained. Russia, China, and the UAE voted against it. 

"We regret that the UN Security Council was unable to halt the escalation in the region," said the representative of Russia at the UN whose country's draft resolution on Tuesday calling for an immediate ceasefire was defeated by a veto from the US and the UK.

22:45 In an interview with well-known British broadcaster Piers Morgan, Egyptian podcaster Rahma Zein said Israel was "a spoiled brat" who has violated international law time and again, and accused Israel of carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian people.

"You and the Western media are unable to say no to a country that has grown up to be "a sociopath."

"The United States has given permission for Israel to [commit] genocide on the ground," she said.

"The relationship between the US and Israel is putting the world in Jeopardy," Zein stressed.

Muslims and Christians lived side by side and in peace with their Jewish neighbours in the Arab countries before the creation of the state of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinian people, Zein told Piers Morgan, who insisted that the Palestinian resistance against Israel as an attempt of "genocide against the Jews."

The current conflict in Gaza "is not a war," she insisted, in response to his attempts to describe the conflict as "a war between two sides."

 "A war assumes that both sides are on equal footing," she lambasted Morgan for attempting to equate "violence on both sides," she said.

"I have accused Israel of genocide. I am accusing Israel of genocide. It is genocide," Zein insisted.

Zein, the editor-in-chief of Scoop Empire, made international headlines after confronting CNN's Clarissa Ward on the Rafah border crossing earlier this week, challenging her on air about her complicity in the airing of a fake news segment that depicted senseless Palestinian bombing against Israelis.

Live footage showed Ward, the chief international correspondent for CNN, agreeing on air to go along with her network producer's instructions to pretend to duck "under duress" during a "senseless bombing by Hamas", as the American network continued unabashed support for Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Tonight, as she decried Piers Morgan's bias against the Palestinians and refusal to denounce Israeli war crimes as such, Zein made a passionate case on his show against the Israeli occupation and Israel's long history of oppressing the Palestinian people, calling for an immediate ceasefire, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and holding Israel accountable by the UN under international law.

Last week, in a similar interview with Piers Morgan, World-renowned Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef took the British broadcaster to task, exposing - with superb wit - his attempts to portray the current conflict as a result of the Hamas attack on 7 October and not a decades-old policy of dispossession of the Palestinian people by Israel

Bassem Youssef's interview with Morgan garnered millions of views on social media platforms in the Arab World and in Western countries.


22:30 Barbara Leaf, the top US envoy for the Middle East, flew back to the region after accompanying Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a crisis tour.

She started in the United Arab Emirates and will also visit Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, with other stops possible, the State Department said.

22:10 Rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip have struck the city of Rishon LeTsiyon in central Israel.

There were reports of 4 Israeli injuries in central Israel, according to Al Arabiya.

21:30 Rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on Ashdoud and other Israeli targets in the Gaza Envelope.

21:00 Warning sirens are heard in Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel, according to Al Arabiya.

20:30 Radio Israel reported on Wednesday evening on ongoing talks to implement a major swap of prisoners between Israel and Hamas.

The report indicated that an agreement is being discussed which stipulates that Israel would release women and minor Palestinian political prisoners from Israeli jails who have not been accused of violent attacks and expand the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Rafah border with Egypt - in exchange for the release of all Israeli children and the elderly who were captured by Hamas on 7 October and the expansion of the humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Rafah border with Egypt.

At the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, according to Palestinian sources, Israel held close to 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners in its jails, including hundreds of minors.

Since the start of the current conflict on 7 October, the Israeli occupation army has arrested hundreds of Palestinians in raids on various cities and towns in the West Bank.

20:30 The bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Gaza City Wael Al-Dahdouh was informed on air that his son, daughter, and wife were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the strip on Wednesday.

Al-Dahdouh, who became known to millions of viewers around the world on 7 October for covering the stories of the untold human cost of the relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on thousands of his neighbours in the strip, collapsed in tears upon hearing the news.
In a video, Al-Dahdouh, 53, is seen carrying his dead child daughter in shock and caressing his dead son before wrapping him in a coffin.
The family was killed in an Israeli airstrike against a shelter that they had recently fled to after their own neighbourhood was bombarded.

20:00 The Australian government is sending a “significant contingent” of aircraft and supporting troops to the Middle East on standby in the event “this gets worse," as the Israeli war on Gaza intensifies and threatens to spread in the region, according to the Guardian. 

19:00 Israel has accepted a request from the US to temporarily delay its planned ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to give Washington more time to deploy additional air defense systems to protect its groups in the region, according to US and Israeli officials who spoke to The Times of Israel.

The Pentagon is rushing to deploy roughly a dozen air defense systems to protect American troops in several Arab states from missile attacks.

18:40 AFP photographer captured images of some displaced Palestinian mothers and their children enjoying a fleeting moment of quiet in a makeshift refugee camp in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip as relentless Israeli airstrikes continue and the prospects of death hover in the air all around them.

18:20 Hezbollah announced that five of its members were killed in clashes with Israel, bringing the total to 44 since the start of its clashes with the Israeli army on 7 October, Al-Miadeen Website. 

18:10 According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health Tuesday, 10 of the 35 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are out of service, along with 65 percent of primary health care facilities. Meanwhile, 178 educational institutions, including 140 government schools and 20 UNRWA schools, are out of service.

The ministry estimated that 1.4 million Gazans have been displaced. Of these, 685,000 are sheltering with other families, 565,000 in 148 schools affiliated with the UNRWA, 101,000 in mosques, churches, and public places, and 70,000 in 67 government schools.

The statement said that 42 percent of housing units in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed by Israeli bombardment. Of these, 26,684 units have been totally destroyed, while  140,500 have been partially destroyed, 

18:00 Jack Lew, the Biden administration's nominee to serve as the next US ambassador to Israel, advanced from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — one week after a contentious confirmation hearing where Republicans sharply criticized him (and the Obama and Biden administrations, in turn) for empowering Iran's backing of Hamas.

The vote passed 12-9, with Sen. Rand Paul serving as the only Republican to vote in favour of Lew.

Lew's nomination now needs the approval of the full Senate before he is confirmed. A vote on the matter is expected to take place next week.

Both the White House and US lawmakers have flagged Lew's swift confirmation as an essential step in the U.S. response to the Hamas attack on Israel.

17:30 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has warned that an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip could result in a very dangerous situation including the loss of more lives.

El-Sisi's warnings came during a press conference with the French President Emmanuel Macron in Cairo on Wednesday.

"Already more than 6,000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured," the Egyptian president said.

"A displacement of the Palestinians in Gaza outside of their land would complicate the prospects of the two-state solution to resolve the conflict."

"We must work to contain the conflict and prevent its spread in the region," the Egyptian president noted.

"We are against the killing of all civilians on all sides," El-Sisi stressed.

From his side, President Macron announced that Paris would be sending a ship to support hospitals in Gaza.

Macron said France has a vision that focuses on confronting terrorism and simultaneously protecting civilians.

"We have to avoid escalation and the increase in the level of tensions in the region." 

"We have to work toward a political resolution based on the two-state solution to the conflict," Macron stressed.

Macron arrived in Cairo on Wednesday after holding talks on Tuesday with Israeli PM Netanyahu and top Israeli officials in Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman on Wednesday morning.

16:00 The foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar accused the international community of "double standards" Wednesday in its reaction to the escalating Gaza war.

Qatar's top diplomat Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the two governments, both Western allies, "reaffirm our complete rejection of responding to the crisis with double standards when it comes to human life."

"It is not permissible to condemn the killing of civilians in one context and justify it in another." Al-Thani, who also serves as Qatar's prime minister, said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said: "The failure of some American and northern European countries to condemn and prevent the destruction and disaster in Gaza constitutes a very serious double standard and plays a destabilizing role.

"The operation in Gaza should be stopped as soon as possible. Humanitarian corridors should be opened," he added.

15:30 The Palestinian health ministry says at least 6,500 Palestinians have been killed and more than 17,400 wounded in Israeli airstrikes in the war on Gaza so far, with most of them women and children.

The dead include more than 2,700 children, more than 1,500 women, and 346 elderly.

15:15 Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank rallied in Ramallah on Wednesday against the Israeli war in Gaza, denouncing the targeting of civilians and calling for an end to the blockade on the strip.

15:00 The Libyan House of Representatives has called on ambassadors of countries supporting Israel to leave Libya immediately. It has also urged the Libyan government to cease exporting oil and gas to these countries if Israel continues its actions in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the Libyan parliament emphasized the necessity for an immediate halt to Israeli aggression, denouncing it as "a campaign of genocide by Zionist gangs." It further expressed its opposition against any form of displacement of the Gaza population.

14:40 Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday accused the United States of "directing" Israeli strikes on Hamas in Gaza that have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians.

"America is a definite accomplice of criminals," said Khamenei during a speech in Tehran.

"The United States is in some way directing the crime that is being committed in Gaza."

14:30 In a prospective development, Israel may soon limit the access of individuals detained for 'security-related offenses' to legal counsel, as per a wartime proposal put forth by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Times of Israel reports. Today, Levin is presenting this proposal to the cabinet, requesting their support for legislative amendments to custody regulations.

The proposed changes aim to enable continued interrogation of detainees 'suspected of committing security offenses related to war.' Israel has arrested more than 1200 Palestinians in the West Bank since October 7 including including children, women, elderly people, and journalists.

14:20 Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas armed wing, says that it launched a rocket directed at the southern Israeli city of Eilat. This represents the longest-range attack on Israel since the beginning of the war. An Israeli army spokesperson said, "One launch was detected from Gaza towards the Eilat region, landing in an open area." There have been no reports of damage or casualties.

14:15 The Gaza Strip has lived through 16 years of de-development, the United Nations said Wednesday, adding that the economic consequences of the Israel-Hamas war were "impossible to determine".

"Gaza has experienced 16 years of de-development and suppressed human potential and the right to development," the UN's UNCTAD trade and development agency said in an annual report on the Palestinian economy.

14:00 The health ministry in the Gaza Strip said Wednesday that 6,546 people have been killed in the territory since the outbreak of war. The death toll includes 2,704 children. A total of 17,439 people have also been wounded since October 7.

13:45 Israel strikes Syria's Aleppo airport today for the fourth time in two weeks, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

13:30 Jordanian King Abdullah II calls on the international community "to take immediate action to pressure Israel to stop the war and lift the siege on the Gaza Strip".

13:10 The Israeli army struck another Hezbollah target in southern Lebanon with artillery shelling and a drone strike, claiming that a cell of the Lebanese group was preparing to carry out an attack toward Israel.
Hezbollah announced that two more of its members were killed in border clashes with Israel, bringing the death toll of its members to 40 since the war in Gaza erupted.

13:00 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he was canceling plans to visit Israel because of its "inhumane" war against Hamas militants in Gaza.

"We had a project to go to Israel, but it was canceled, we will not go," Erdogan told ruling party lawmakers in parliament, adding that he viewed Hamas as "liberators" fighting for their own land.

12:30 Qatar's prime minister expressed optimism that "there will be a breakthrough on captives' release soon". During a press conference with the Turkish foreign minister in Doha, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who also serves as the minister of foreign affairs, emphasized that Qatar will maintain coordination with Turkey and regional partners to de-escalate the crisis. He also condemned the "collective punishment policy" in Gaza.

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi described Qatar's diplomatic intervention in humanitarian aspects of the conflict with Hamas in Gaza as "crucial at this time," according to Israeli media.

Qatari mediators are urging Hamas to quicken the pace of the release of captives, including women and children held in Gaza, without expecting Israeli concessions, Reuters reported, citing three diplomats and a source in the region familiar with the talks.

11:55 The UN has warned that displaced Palestinians are being forced to ‘sleep in the streets’ as shelters are four times over their capacity.
“Nearly 600,000 internally displaced people are sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities. Our shelters are FOUR times over their capacities - many people are sleeping in the streets as current facilities are overwhelmed,” the UNRWA wrote on X.

11:50 The UK is ‘not asking for ceasefire’ in the Middle East, Minister for immigration Robert Jenrick told Sky News.

Jenrick added he “doesn’t believe” Israel has broken international law and that it was “impossible” to reach an agreement “with a terrorist organization”, in reference to the Palestinian faction Hamas.  This comes after the US and Russia led international calls yesterday for a pause in fighting to allow for the delivery of humanitarian supplies into the enclave.

11:45 Israel arrested 58 Palestinians from the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem at Wednesday dawn, the Palestinian Prisoner Club says.

11:35 Lebanon's Hezbollah announced the killing of 11 of its members in a crossfire with Israeli forces yesterday on the Lebanese border.

Early Wednesday, the Hezbollah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah met with the Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziad Nakhalah, and the Deputy Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Saleh Al-Arouri.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said that the meeting included "An assessment of the positions taken internationally and regionally, and what the parties of the (resistance axis) must do at this sensitive stage to achieve a real victory in Gaza."

11:30 Israeli Finance Minister says that the Gaza war costs Israel 1 billion shekels (246 million USD) per day.

11:20 French President  Emmanuel Macron will meet Egyptian President Sissi in Cairo on Wednesday.

11:10 Egypt's Major General Staff Sherif Jouda Al-Araishi, Commander of the Third Field Army, asserted that the Egyptian army "has achieved peak levels of combat proficiency and readiness, prepared to carry out ground operations within our designated area of responsibility or any other location to which we are tasked." This came during President Sisi's visit to inspect the assembly of the Fourth Armored Division in the Third Field Army in Suez.

11:00 According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Israeli fire resulted in the deaths of five Palestinians and multiple injuries in the West Bank and Jerusalem, bringing the total death toll in the West Bank since October 7th to 103.

Three of the fatalities occurred in an Israeli airstrike near the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, while two were shot in Qalandia camp, situated north of Jerusalem, and in the city of Qalqilya.

Israeli occupation forces have intensified military measures in the West Bank by closing checkpoints and entrances to cities, towns, and villages, and impeding the movement of residents, WAFA added.

10:15 The raging war on Gaza is already battering the economies of nearby countries, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund told a Saudi investor forum on Wednesday.
"You look at the neighboring countries -- Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan -- where the channels of impact are already visible," Kristalina Georgieva said at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

10:00 Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza says that Israel's latest night-time air strikes on Gaza killed at least 80 people.

9:15 Journalist Saeed Al-Halabi, associated with Al-Aqsa Satellite Channel, died during an early morning attack on his residence in Jabalia, northern Gaza. His colleague, Ahmed Abu Mahadi, also succumbed in the same incident. Prior to this, an airstrike in Rafah resulted in the casualties of independent journalist Salma Makhimer and her child, bringing the total count of journalist casualties to 22 since October 7.

In the West Bank, security forces detained independent journalist Radwan Qatnani at his home in the Askar camp, located east of Nablus. This arrest adds to the total number of imprisoned journalists, which now stands at thirty, including 12 detentions since the beginning of the war. 

9:10 Israel denied a visa to UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths with the intention of "teaching them a lesson" after comments made at the UN by secretary-general António Guterres.

According to Israeli media, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, explained on army radio that "due to his remarks, we will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives. We have already refused a visa for under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths. The time has come to teach them a lesson."

9:00 Syrian state media reported that eight Syrian military personnel lost their lives in an Israeli airstrike in Deraa. The Israeli military had previously announced that it conducted airstrikes targeting "military infrastructure and mortar launchers associated with the Syrian Army" in response to rocket attacks originating from Syria on Tuesday.

8:00 A UN agency warned dwindling fuel supplies could force it to stop aid operations in war-riven Gaza on Wednesday, as calls mounted for a humanitarian "pause" in fighting.

After 18 days of withering Israeli air strikes and a near-total land, sea, and air blockade of the Palestinian territory, the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) warned operations were at breaking point.

"If we do not get fuel urgently, we will be forced to halt our operations in the Gaza Strip," said the UN agency, which provides aid to 600,000 displaced Gazans.

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