By Yoshita Singh
THE UN Security Council has called for urgent humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout Gaza to allow unhindered humanitarian access in the strip, finally overcoming deadlock and adopting a resolution in the month-long Israel-Hamas conflict. The 15-nation Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday that called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access. The Malta-drafted resolution was adopted with 12 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions from Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The resolution calls for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable, consistent with international humanitarian law, the full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access” for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to facilitate the continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision of essential goods and services throughout the Gaza Strip.
The adoption of the resolution came after four failed attempts last month in the Council to take action on allowing humanitarian access in the Israel-Hamas conflict that broke out after the militant group attacked Israel on October 7.
The resolution by the US that would have affirmed the right of member states to defend themselves against threats to peace and security posed by acts of terrorism, was vetoed by Russia and China. Two resolutions by Moscow failed to get sufficient votes in their favour while the Brazil text that would have called for humanitarian pauses to allow full access for aid to the Gaza strip was vetoed by the US.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in her explanation of the vote, said that the text does not include condemnation of Hamas but this is the first time the Council has ever adopted a resolution that “even mentions the word ‘Hamas’.” She said that while Washington fully supports the resolution’s call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, “ultimately, the United States could not vote yes on a text that did not condemn Hamas or reaffirm the right of all Member States to protect their citizens from terrorist attacks.” UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said while the resolution is absolutely necessary, Britain “regrets” that the first resolution passed by the Council on the issue could not clearly condemn Hamas’ terrorist attacks of October 7. “The barbarity of those attacks should be clear to us all. That is why we have abstained today. But let me be absolutely clear, it was vital and overdue for the Council to speak on this crisis and we strongly support the resolution’s purpose: to get aid in, and hostages out,” Woodward said.
“Extended humanitarian pauses are untenable as long as 239 abductees remain in the hands of Hamas,” Xinhua news agency quoted Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat as saying in a statement. The statement called on the UN Security Council “to unequivocally condemn Hamas” for its October 7 unprecendented attack on Israel. According to authorities, the hostages comprise Israeli and foreign nationals who were taken captive by the terrorist group shortly after its massive assault. Some media reports have claimed that about 30 of the hostages are children
So far, four civilian hostages have been released by Hamas, while a female Israeli soldier was rescued by Israeli forces. A day before the UNSC adopted the resolution on Wednesday, the Hamas had claimed that one of the captured soldiers had been killed by Israeli airstrikes.
The group alleges that at least 57 hostages have been killed in the constant bombardments in Gaza so far. Meanwhile, the UNSC resolution has called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip” to allow urgently needed aid to reach civilians in the besieged Palestinian enclave. This was the fifth attempt by the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The resolutionhas also demanded the release of the hostages taken by Hamas. Russia and the UK joined the US in abstaining from voting on the resolution allowing it to be adopted with the support of the other 12 Council members, including France and China, the other permanent members.