Global outrage at US veto of ceasefire resolution as ICJ ponders Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine - as it happened

Ahram Online , Tuesday 20 Feb 2024

One in six children in Gaza City is acutely malnourished as Israel maintains a deadly blockade on all food, medicine, and fuel to tens of thousands of Palestinians, according to a UNICEF study, as the Israeli war on Gaza enters its 137th day and the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution leaves Gaza under continued Israeli assault.

West Bank
File Photo: Israel s wall around the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem restricts the basic freedom of thousands of Palestinians every day. Photo courtesy of Electronic Intifada.


23:00 The Israeli army is expanding a road across central Gaza to facilitate its military operations, a part of its plans to maintain security control over the territory for some time, according to defence officials, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Israeli combat engineers are planning to destroy houses and other structures along the road’s flanks and are already laying a new base of gravel to widen the corridor and make it more militarily useful, according to footage aired on Israel’s Channel 14 on Saturday. 

The gravel-paved road is one of many Israeli efforts to reshape the topography of the Gaza Strip — and give its military freedom of movement and a tighter grasp on the territory.


The corridor south of Gaza City, stretching roughly 5 miles from the Israeli border to the coast, divides Gaza in two, along an east-west strip of land occupied by Israeli troops since early in the four-month-old war.


The building and expansion of the road come as the Israeli military is also building a roughly 1-kilometre buffer zone just inside Gaza’s border with Israel, where Palestinians would be barred from entry, the WSJ added. 

22:50 US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the Palestinians detained by Israel “must be treated humanely” following UN reports of sexual abuse of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces.

However, he declined to offer any follow-up steps that may be taken on the matter.

“We have been clear that civilians and detainees must be treated humanely, and following international humanitarian law. We strongly encourage Israel to thoroughly and transparently investigate credible allegations and ensure accountability for abuses and violations,” Miller told reporters.

The US has yet to take any concrete steps to address widespread reports that Palestinian detainees, many rounded up and held without charge by Israeli forces, have been subjected to torture and inhumane conditions.

Miller has reiterated that the US does not believe Israel’s actions in Gaza constitute genocide, as countries such as South Africa and some experts on international law have suggested.

Asked about recent comments by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva comparing the war in Gaza to the Holocaust, Miller said the US “obviously” disagrees with those comments.

“We have been quite clear that we do not believe that genocide has occurred in Gaza,” he added.

21:13 The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the US for vetoing the UN Security Council ceasefire measure, condemning it as defiance of the international community.

The veto gives Israel “an additional green light for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggression against the people of Gaza and to launch a bloody assault against Rafah," Abbas’s office said.

The Palestinian presidency also said that it holds the US administration responsible for “supporting and providing protection” to Israel’s “barbaric attacks” against children, women, and the elderly in Gaza.

“This policy makes the United States a partner in the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the war crimes Israeli forces are committing,” the statement, published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, said.

Moreover, the Palestinian presidency asserts that the US is advancing its own Security Council draft resolution, which only calls for pauses in the fighting, as a means to justify its veto against the ceasefire proposal.

21:00 An Israeli force stormed the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and clashed with Palestinians there, local sources told Al Jazeera.

Sounds of fierce fighting and shooting were heard as more Israeli military enforcements, backed by bulldozers, arrived in several areas of the city. Israeli drones were spotted over the area as well.

At least three Palestinians have been injured in the raid, but Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching them, according to eyewitnesses.

20:47 The World Health Organization released footage showing United Nations doctors entering Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after the Israeli army raided the facility.

Israel had claimed it had intelligence indicating that captives were held there, but none were found during the raid.

The WHO said it led two life-saving high-risk missions to transfer 32 critical patients, including two children, from Nasser Medical Complex on the 18 and 19 February.

The transfer of patients was requested by the hospital staff after the facility became non-functional following a military raid on 14 February, after a week-long siege.

Patients were moved to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza’s middle area, and the International Medical Corps, UAE, and Indonesia field hospitals in Rafah.

"Frail patients were transferred amidst active conflict near the aid convoy. Road conditions hindered the swift movement of ambulances, placing the health of patients at risk."

Around 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital. As the ICU was no longer functioning, WHO staff transferred the only remaining ICU patient to a different part of the complex, where other patients were receiving basic care.

The WHO added that "Patients transferred during the missions included 3 suffering from paralysis, 2 of them with tracheostomies, and several others with external fixators for severe orthopaedic injuries."

Nasser Hospital in Gaza has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for disease. WHO staff said the destruction around the hospital was "indescribable."





20:04 The Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, reported engaging in fierce fighting with "enemy soldiers and vehicles using machine guns and anti-personnel mortar shells" in northern Gaza.

The group added that the clashes resulted in some Israeli soldiers killed or injured.

19:23 The US veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire sparked outrage across the globe, drawing sharp criticism from Palestinians, and even US allies.

Washington's veto was "absolutely reckless and dangerous," said Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative to the UN.

Hamas said the US veto gave Israel a "green light" for "more massacres."

Moscow also said Washington gave Israel a license to kill Palestinians, adding that the US is not seeking peace but aiming to protect Israel.

"We voted for the resolution because the killing of civilians in Gaza must stop. The suffering that Palestinians are enduring is beyond anything a human being should be subjected to," said Samuel Zbogar, Slovenia's representative to the UN Security Council.

France and Malta also voiced their disapproval, highlighting the suffering of Palestinian civilians.

"The human toll and the humanitarian situation is intolerable and Israeli operations must stop," said the French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere.

Algerian ambassador Amar Bendjama lamented the council's failure and challenged its conscience, saying: "The draft resolution would have sent a strong message to Palestinians ... unfortunately the Security Council failed once again."

"Examine your conscience, how will history judge you," Bendjama said.

19:01 The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is pausing deliveries of life-saving food aid to northern Gaza until conditions are in place that allow for safe distributions, the agency said in a statement.

"Deliveries resumed on Sunday after a three-week suspension following the strike on a UNRWA truck and due to the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system. On Sunday, as WFP started the route towards Gaza City, the convoy was surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint," it added.

"First fending off multiple attempts by people trying to climb aboard our trucks, then facing gunfire once we entered Gaza City, our team was able to distribute a small quantity of the food along the way."

"On Monday, the second convoy’s journey north faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order. Several trucks were looted between Khan Younis and Deir Al-Balah and a truck driver was beaten. The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger."


19:00 The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said that only seven of its 23 health centres in central and southern Gaza remain operational due to the ongoing Israeli bombardment and access restrictions.

“Our team of UNRWA doctors, nurses, and midwives provide care at our health centres, as well as in roaming medical teams in UNRWA shelters,” the group said in a social media post.

“Due to continued bombardment and access restrictions, only 7 (out of 23) UNRWA health centres are now operational in middle and southern Gaza.”


18:50 Houthi rebels in Yemen used drones to attack "some enemy American warships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea," Houthi Spokesman Yahya Saree said

He said the Houthis "also carried out an operation to target sensitive sites of the Israeli enemy in the [port city of Eilat] with another number of drones."

They also used missiles to target an Israeli ship, the MSC Silver, in the Gulf of Aden, he explained in a post on X.


18:27 The Gaza municipality said that the Israeli military has destroyed approximately one million square metres of roads and streets since the onset of the war.

This destruction has transformed Gaza into a disaster-stricken city, experiencing a profound crisis, it added.

Additionally, the occupation has demolished around 3,600 traffic signs and signals, 260,000 linear metres of curbs and sidewalks, and 160,000 linear metres of lighting lines and lanterns.


18:20 Oral proceedings continued for the second day at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile presented their arguments. 

Chile was the last country to present arguments today, and its legal representative Ximena Fuentes Torrijo noted that the policy and practices of settlements pursued by Israel since 1967 “indicates its intention to claim that its population has the right to stay permanently” in the occupied territories.

“By its actions, including the exploitation of natural resources, the policies of settlements, the erection of the wall, the legalization of outposts, among others, Israel has demonstrated its intention to control indefinitely the occupied Palestinian territory,” she said.

High-ranking Israeli authorities clearly express that they have no intent to guarantee the right of Palestinian people to self-determination. Instead, the occupation has become indistinguishable from annexation as Israel neither regards itself nor behaves as a temporary occupant, she explained.

Maria Clara Paula de Tusco, the head of the United Nations division at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: "By extending its jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territories and establishing two distinct legal systems, one applied to Israeli settlers and another imposed under military rule to Palestinians, Israel is practising discrimination against the Palestinian population while impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of their human rights and fundamental freedoms."

While Bolivia considered the discriminatory measures of a colonial nature imposed by Israel before the legal status of the occupation to be aimed at a dispossession of the Palestinian population, to the denial of their rights by altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the city of Jerusalem. 

"Israel is also obliged to stop the development of the atrocities of genocide committed more recently in Gaza and to comply with the provisional measures outlined in the order of this court on January 26, 2024," Bolivia's representative said.

Earlier, Pieter Andreas Stemmet spoke for South Africa's legal team highlighting how the ICJ found South Africa's presence in Namibia to be illegal and that the same standards should be applied to Israel.

Canada was also initially scheduled to present its arguments but decided to pull out at the last minute.

Palestine presented its case against Israel’s occupation of territories to the ICJ. Palestinian lawyers and representatives outlined how Israel 'systematically denies' Palestinians the right to life and called for an immediate end to the occupation

At the hearing yesterday, Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s UN envoy appealed for “a future in which Palestinian children are treated as children, not as a demographic threat." He delivered an impassioned plea on the rights of the Palestinian people: They only demand respect for their rights. They ask for nothing more."

He also urged "an immediate, complete, and unconditional end" to Israel's occupation and settlements.

Wednesday promises to be another busy day at the ICJ, with the 10 countries scheduled to present their oral arguments, including Egypt.


17:41 Save the Children warned about the price Gaza’s children will pay for the UN Security Council’s most recent failure to adopt a ceasefire resolution due to a US veto.

The group said in a statement that Israel’s war in Gaza has killed at least 12,400 children, one of the deadliest military campaigns in modern history regarding its impact on children.

At least one million children in Gaza remain at risk from fighting, starvation, disease, and the mental distress of the war, the group added. 

“We are appalled to hear of this new low in an already deep pit of failures from the international community. After four months of relentless violence, we are running out of words to describe what children and families in Gaza are going through, as well as the tools to respond in any adequate way,” said the group’s director for the occupied Palestinian territories, Jason Lee.


17:39 The Security Council members failed to adopt an Arab-backed resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Once again, the text was vetoed by the US, marking the third American veto of a Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in the strip torn by the brutal Israeli war.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-1 with the United Kingdom abstaining

"Amid intense fighting, the UN and partners say people in Gaza face starvation, disease, and death as humanitarian situation nears total collapse," the UN said.

All members voted to approve the resolution except Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the UN, third from right in front. British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, second from left in front, abstained. AP Photo

On 18 October, the US vetoed a Security Council draft resolution that would have called for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting in Gaza. On 8 December, Washington again used its veto power to block a proposal calling for a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that American police have been attacking pro-Palestinian demonstrators in New York.


17:22 The French navy has shot down two drones over the Red Sea where Yemen's Houthi rebels have been attacking ships, the defence ministry in Paris said Tuesday.

The navy, which has two frigates deployed in the area, detected "multiple drone attacks originating in Yemen" overnight Monday to Tuesday, before destroying two of the unmanned aircraft, the ministry said.

The attack came a day after the European Union formally launched a naval mission to protect Red Sea shipping from the Houthis who control much of war-torn Yemen.

The rebels have been harassing the vital shipping lane since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians during the Israeli war on Gaza.

An official said that the European Union aims to have the mission, called Aspides, Greek for "shield," up and running in a "few weeks" with at least four vessels.

17:03 Israeli airstrikes destroyed a residential block in the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killing 14 Palestinians thus far.


16:50 Israel's Minister of Settlements Orit Strook said that "the entire land of Israel is ours, and we are its people," Al Quds news reported.

She continued, saying: "For this reason, there will not be a Palestinian state in the land of Israel because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no such nation," she added in her most recent racist statements.

16:00 Al-Amal Hospital is currently under multiple attacks, as Israeli forces have directly targeted the third floor of the hospital, resulting in the burning of two rooms, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said.

"Additionally, the hospital’s water lines were targeted. Furthermore, a house opposite the hospital was targeted while the PRCS team and a delegation from UNRWA were present in the courtyard of Al-Amal Hospital."


14:45 Citing three Israeli and US officials, AXIOS and Reuters reported on Tuesday that Brett McGurk, President Biden's top Middle East adviser, is expected to visit Israel and Egypt this week for talks on the possible Israeli military operation in Rafah and efforts to secure the release of captives held by Hamas in Gaza.

​McGurk’s discussions will also tackle efforts to release the captives in Gaza amid the ongoing war, Axios reported, citing three Israeli and US officials as saying.

The officials expect McGurk to meet with Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) Abbas Kamel and other Egyptian officials in Cairo on Wednesday, Axios said.

He will then head to Israel for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and other Israeli officials on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The reports on McGurk's visit to Egypt and Israel come as the US plans to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC) aiming to head off Israeli plans to carry out a military ground operation in the densely-populated Rafah city on the Egyptian border.

In the draft resolution, seen by Reuters and Bloomberg, the US calls for a temporary ceasefire and warns that a Rafah assault would “result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighbouring countries.”

13:45 Israel is applying an even more extreme version of apartheid in the Palestinian territories than that experienced in South Africa before 1994, Pretoria told the world's top court on Tuesday.

"We as South Africans sense, see, hear, and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against black people in my country," said Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is based.

An unprecedented 52 countries are taking the stand at the ICJ, which has been asked to provide a non-binding "advisory opinion" on the legal implications of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

"It is clear that Israel's illegal occupation is also being administered in breach of the crime of apartheid ... It is indistinguishable from settler colonialism. Israel's apartheid must end," said Madonsela.

He said South Africa had a "special obligation" to call out apartheid wherever it occurs and ensure it is "brought to an immediate end."

The case is separate from a high-profile case brought by Pretoria charging Israel of carrying out genocide against Palestinians during its current war on Gaza.

In that case, the ICJ ruled that Israel should do everything in its power to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and allow humanitarian aid access for 2.3 million Palestinians.

The hearings kicked off on Monday with three hours of testimony from Palestinian officials, who accused the Israeli occupiers of running a system of "colonialism and apartheid."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki urged the judges to call for an end to the occupation "immediately, totally and unconditionally," stressing that Israel's open-ended occupation of the Palestinian territories has left Palestinians with only three choices, "displacement, subjugation, or death. These are the choices, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, or genocide."

South African police beating Black women with clubs after they raided and set a beer hall on fire in protest against apartheid, Durban, South Africa, 1959. Courtesy of

13:15 Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari revealed on Tuesday that the past days did not witness any advances in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Al-Ansari reaffirmed Qatar’s commitment to mediation efforts between the two sides to reach a ceasefire in the war in Gaza.

He criticized attempts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stall and derail talks, which have been mediated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US.

"The Israeli Prime Minister's recent statements in which he calls on Qatar to pressure Hamas into releasing the (Israeli) hostages are nothing but a new attempt by him to delay and prolong the war for reasons that have become clear to everyone," Al-Ansari posted in a statement on X.

On Saturday, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who leads his country's mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel, said negotiations for a ceasefire and prisoner exchange deal had not been "very promising" in recent days.

Speaking during the Munich Security Conference, the Qatari PM said a truce deal between Israel and Hamas “should not be conditioned” on an agreement for the release of Israeli captives.

“This is the dilemma that we’ve been in and unfortunately that’s been misused by a lot of countries, that to get a ceasefire, it’s conditional to have the hostage deal. It shouldn’t be conditioned,” he added.

Leen, a 2-year-old, is getting her middle-upper-arm-circumference (MUAC) measured, her MUAC reads less than 10, indicating severe acute malnutrition and drastic weight loss and muscle atrophy taken February 2024. Courtesy of Rafah Governorate.

12:30 In accepting three awards for The Zone of Interest at the BAFTA AWARDS 2024, including Best Film Not in the English Language, producer James Wilson appealed to the public to show compassion to all innocent victims of war regardless of nationality or ethnicity.  

“A friend wrote me after seeing the film the other day that he couldn’t stop thinking about the walls we construct in our lives, which we choose not to look behind,” Wilson said.

“Those walls aren’t new, from before or during or since the Holocaust, and it seems stark right now that we should care about innocent people being killed in Gaza, or Yemen, in the same way we think about innocent people being killed in Mariupol or Israel.”

The Zone of Interest is a 2023 historical drama film, which was written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, and is loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis.

The film, a co-production between the United Kingdom and Poland, stars Christian Friedel as the German Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss, who strives to build a dream life with his wife, Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), in a new home right next to the German Auschwitz concentration camp.

The Zone of Interest premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on 19 May 2023 to acclaim, winning both the Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Prize, and was named one of the top-five international films of 2023 by the National Board of Review.

The film has been nominated for five Academy Awards and three Golden Globes Awards.



11:30 Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, arrived this morning in the Egyptian capital Cairo, at the head of a delegation from the movement’s leadership, to hold discussions with Egyptian officials about the political developments in light of the aggressive war on Gaza and the efforts made to stop the aggression, provide relief to citizens, and achieve the goals of our Palestinian people, read a Hamas statement.

Egypt and Qatar have been leading talks for a ceasefire and prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked and derailed all recent efforts to reach such a deal, insisting Tel Aviv will continue with the war till "total victory."

10:00 Arab nations are putting to a vote a UN resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, knowing it will be vetoed by the United States but hoping to show broad global support for ending the Israeli war on Gaza.

The Security Council scheduled the vote on the resolution at 10 am EST (1500 GMT) Tuesday. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says the Biden administration will veto the Arab-backed resolution. This is because it may interfere with ongoing US efforts to arrange a deal between the warring parties that would bring at least a six-week halt to hostilities and release all captives taken by Hamas on 7 October.

In a surprise move ahead of the vote, the United States circulated a rival UN Security Council resolution that would support a temporary ceasefire in Gaza linked to the release of all captives and call for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid. Both actions “would help to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities,” the draft resolution obtained by the Associated Press says.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told several reporters on Monday that the Arab-backed resolution is not “an effective mechanism for trying to do the three things that we want to see happen — which is get hostages out, more aid in, and a lengthy pause to this conflict.”

With the US draft, “what we’re looking at is another possible option, and we’ll be discussing this with friends going forward,” Wood said. “I don’t think you can expect anything to happen tomorrow.”

A senior US official said later on Monday: “We don’t believe in a rush to a vote.” The official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of council discussions on the US draft, said: “We intend to engage in the coming days in intensive negotiation around it … That’s why we’re not putting a timeline on a vote, but we do recognize the urgency of the situation.”

Arab nations, supported by many of the 193 UN member countries, have been demanding a ceasefire for months as Israel’s deadly military offensive against Gaza killed and injured more than 100,000 civilians mostly women and children.

Tunisia’s UN Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, this month’s chair of the 22-nation Arab group, told UN reporters last Wednesday that a ceasefire is urgently needed.

He pointed to some 1.5 million Palestinians who sought safety in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah and face a “catastrophic scenario” if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with his announced plan to evacuate civilians from the city and move Israel’s military offensive to the area.

09:00 The report describes deepening misery across the Gaza Strip, where Israel's air and ground offensive has killed and injured more than 100,000 civilians, obliterated entire neighbourhoods, and displaced more than 80 percent of the population.

The report by the Global Nutrition Cluster, an aid partnership led by the UN children's agency UNICEF, says more than 90 percent of children under five in Gaza eat two or fewer food groups a day, known as severe food poverty. A similar percentage are affected by infectious diseases, with 70 percent experiencing diarrhoea in the last two weeks.

More than 80 percent of homes lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one litre (quart) per person per day, according to the report released on Monday.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, the acute malnutrition rate is 5 percent, compared to 15 percent in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and largely cut off from aid for months. Before the war, the rate across Gaza was less than 1 percent, the report said.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths, which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” UNICEF official Ted Chaiban said in a statement.

A UN report in December found that Gaza’s entire population of 2.3 million Palestinians is in a food crisis, with a quarter of the population facing starvation.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, the main provider of aid in Gaza, said earlier this month that Israel was holding up a food shipment that could feed over a million people.

Read the full report


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