Israel rejects Malta-led UN resolution on Gaza

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Thursday, 16th November 2023

Israel promptly rejected a resolution tabled by Malta and adopted on Wednesday by the United Nations Security Council, marking the Council’s first response since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war – described by Outlook as “a significant development at the UN Security Council”. The resolution calls for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to address the escalating crisis faced by Palestinian civilians during Israel’s aerial and ground attacks. Notably, the resolution passed with a 12-0 vote, with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia abstaining, as reported by AP.

The resolution underwent changes, from initially demanding to now calling for humanitarian pauses and the immediate release of hostages held by Hamas and other groups. Despite this, it managed to overcome previous differences that hindered the adoption of four earlier resolutions. Malta’s UN Ambassador, Vanessa Frazier, expressed satisfaction with the resolution, considering it an important first step. She reiterated the commitment to protecting civilians and addressing the plight of children in armed conflict. The resolution, however, does not mention specific events like the 7th October attacks in Israel by Hamas or Israel’s subsequent airstrikes and ground offensive in Gaza.

While some, like US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called the resolution a step forward, criticisms were voiced. Israel’s UN Ambassador, Gilad Erdan, dismissed it as disconnected from reality, and Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, called it a weak call considering the Council’s powerful toolbox.

Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, Malta’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

UN presents 10-point plan to stop ‘carnage’ in Gaza

UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths has presented a 10-point plan to “rein the carnage” in Gaza, which is reaching “new levels of horror every day”, according to The Washington Post. The plan calls, among other things, to “facilitate efforts for a continuous flow of aid” and to implement a “humanitarian ceasefire that allows basic services and essential trade to restart. This ceasefire is vital to facilitate the delivery of aid, enable the release of hostages and give civilians a break.”

Israel deepens search at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital

Today, Thursday, Israeli forces continued to search Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, where they claim Hamas terrorists have been hiding. According to a hospital official, Israeli tanks were inside the medical compound, while soldiers had entered buildings, including the emergency and surgery departments, which house intensive care units. Around 2,300 people, including critically injured patients, newborns, and the displaced, are crowded inside Shifa, Gaza City’s main and largest hospital, the UN said. According to the Hamas, deaths in Gaza have reached 11,500, of whom 4,710 were  minors and 3,160 women. Some 2,100 were missing –dead and buried under the debris – while the injured in the Strip, which could face a total blackout today due to lack of fuel, number 30,000.

Photo credit: Handout/Israeli military/Reuters

‘200 terrorists hiding under Shifa hospital since October’

Some 200 Hamas terrorists, who had participated in the October 7 massacres, are hiding under the Al-Shifa Hospial in Gaza, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said, adding that the military has found “uniforms that Hamas members got rid of” to join the civilians when Israeli troops carried out an incursion. A senior Israeli defence official said that troops had “already found weapons, grenades, ammunition, and flak jackets and other terrorist infrastructure from an undisclosed building within the complex”, as well as “concrete evidence” the Palestinian militant group used it as a “terror headquarters”. The Israelis said “a number of terrorists” had been killed as the solders entered the hospital and were continuing to operate in the medical complex. It released a video of what it says are Hamas weapons and military equipment it uncovered. The Shifa, Rantisi, and other hospitals – claimed Hagari – were used by Hamas. The spokesman then specified that the army inspections of the Shifa hospital “will require further time”.

Photo caption: AFP / Israeli Army

‘Barbaric’ Israeli raid on hospital condemned

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel was waging “a war against the existence of the Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip. He also claimed a “barbaric war” and “genocide” were taking place before the eyes of the world. Abbas’ statement followed a Palestinian Authority  accusation that the Israeli army was “flagrantly” violating international law, after it stormed Gaza’s biggest hospital. The PA called the announcement about the discovery of weapons in the hospital “a blatant lie” by the Jewish state “which should no longer deceive anyone”. The PLO branded the Israeli forces’ assault on the Shifa compound as “a continuation of the genocidal war” and “a new war crime”.

A large part of the Arab world harshly condemned the Israeli raid, with Qatar – a valuable mediator for the hostages’ release – calling for “an international investigation into the raids” on hospitals while Jordan spoke of “violation of the laws of war”. The US also intervened, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stating that it had not given any consent to the Shifa operation. France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, condemned “with the greatest firmness” the bombing of civilian infrastructure around the hospital while, during his inauguration speech in Parliament, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, demanded an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and called on Israel to put an end to the “indiscriminate killing of Palestinians”.

Biden and Xi agree to resume military communication

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed Wednesday to take steps to restore military communication, a senior US official told CNN. The results of talks in California amount to progress in improving the still-tense US-China relationship. No joint statement or other declaration of cooperation were issued. During the high-stakes summit, which wrapped up after roughly four hours, the leaders made clear they wanted to stabilise their countries’ relationship after months of heightened tension. Xi also agreed to mechanisms that would address potential military miscalculations, and agreed to fora for the two sides to present their concerns. Biden described the talks with Xi as “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had”. The crucial meeting, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, comes at an important juncture as the world is grappling with economic cross currents, conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, tensions in Taiwan and more.

Photo credit: Reuters

Kaili’s lawyers ask EU parliament to probe possible immunity breach

Lawyers representing Eva Kaili have asked the European Parliament to investigate whether her parliamentary immunity was violated as part of investigations into the so-called Qatargate cash-for-influence scandal. In an interview with Euronews, Christophe Marchand and Sven Mary said they had requested a hearing before the Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) to present what they claim to be evidence of a breach of the Greek MEP’s right to parliamentary protection. They hope that, if the parliament found her arrest to have violated the institution’s rules on immunity, designed to protect lawmakers from arbitrary political persecution, it would support their case in the Belgian courts. “The parliamentary protection of Eva Kaili was not respected and for that there are consequences. One consequence is that she cannot be prosecuted for that,” Marchand explained.

Main photo credit: Israel Defense Forces via AP

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