The UN Security Council has approved a resolution calling for “humanitarian pauses and corridors” in war-torn Gaza, a long-awaited diplomatic breakthrough after weeks of bitter negotiations.
Twelve countries voted to approve the measure, with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia abstaining.
The resolution called 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.”
The International Rescue Committee has said humanitarian groups need a minimum ceasefire of five days in order to do vital work to restore basic services and necessities for Gaza’s more than 2 million civilians. US President Joe Biden said last week that he had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “a pause for a lot more than three days.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said in a statement after the vote that the resolution is “disconnected from reality and is meaningless.”
“Regardless of what the council decides, Israel will continue acting according to international law while the Hamas terrorists will not even read the resolution at all, let alone abide by it,” he said.
Gaza has been under siege since October 7, when Israel closed exit points from the Palestinian enclave, cut it off from food, water and electricity, and began an intensive campaign of airstrikes in retaliation for lethal terror attacks carried out by Palestinian militant group Hamas, which killed an estimated 1,200 people and also saw about 240 taken hostage.
The offensive in Gaza has escalated in recent weeks with expanding ground operations in Gaza’s north, from which civilians have been instructed to evacuate along approved routes in short windows.
The resolution also called for the release of “all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children” and for all parties to “refrain from depriving the civilian population in the Gaza strip of basic services and humanitarian assistance.”
The resolution, drafted by Malta, had already received the backing of the UN’s 22-member Arab Group.
Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said after the vote that “Israel calls on the Security Council and the international community to insist on the release of all Israeli hostages quickly as the resolution stipulates.”
“Israel expects the Security Council to condemn Hamas unequivocally and address the need to create a different security reality in Gaza. There is no room for prolonged humanitarian truces as long as 239 hostages are in the hands of Hamas terrorists,” he said.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Monsour acknowledged that the council is “finally acting,” but said that it should have called for a ceasefire. He also criticized its lack of condemnation for the deaths of civilians and humanitarian workers.
In a statement, the International Rescue Committee called the vote “an important first step.”
“It is now incumbent upon all parties to the conflict, and all UN member states to do everything in their power to help turn these words into action,” the statement continued. (CNN)