Battered, exhausted Gazans sceptical over UN ceasefire call

Battered, exhausted Gazans sceptical over UN ceasefire call
Exhausted Gazans have welcomed the UNSC resolution for a ceasefire in the territory, but many fear that Israel may not adhere to the truce.
3 min read
Gazans are unsure if the UN's call for a ceasefire will bring much respite to the war-battered territory [Getty/file photo]

Bilal Awad, a 63-year-old displaced Gazan, welcomed Monday the UN Security Council's call for a ceasefire but did not believe it would bring a respite in Israel's war in Gaza.

Without forceful action from "Israel's supporter" Washington, which abstained in the vote to its close ally's chagrin, the Israeli government is unlikely to budge, Awad said.

The vote triggered an angry reaction from Israel, which says it must "destroy Hamas" and would not stop before hostages are released.

Monday's resolution was the first Security Council demand for "an immediate ceasefire" since the deadly war began, and was endorsed by 14 members - all but the United States.

It calls for a truce for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which many called "a positive step" but criticised it for being "insufficient".

Yet Awad, who like the majority of Gaza's 2.4 million people has sought refuge in the southern city of Rafah near the Egyptian border, wanted more.

"If Israel defies the world, this is a blow to America, Israel's supporter. America's decisions become mere ink on paper if it does not stop Israel by force."

Israel's ruthless military campaign has killed at least 32,333 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza, and has damaged and destroyed much of the enclave's infrastructure.

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Rafah's population has ballooned with the arrival of many Palestinians like Awad, displaced by nearly six months of war and seeking refuge in the south, unable to leave the besieged coastal strip.

The city is now home to around 1.5 million Palestinians, up from several hundred thousands before the war, with many living in makeshift displacement camps.

Israel has vowed to pursue its offensive against Hamas into the densely packed area, a pledge that has spurred fears of worsening an already heavy civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis.

Qassem Muqaddad, speaking in Rafah, said he was not excessively optimistic after the UN vote.

"We hope that this decision will be effective, and that the major powers will use their strength and authority... against Israel if Israel does not agree to a ceasefire," said 74-year-old Muqaddad.

"This is what we hope for, but we are not very optimistic that Israel will agree to this decision, because Israel has disregarded many (UN) resolutions."

Israel spoke out against the resolution immediately on Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the United States for failing to veto it and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said his government had "no moral right to stop the war while there are still hostages held in Gaza."

Ihab al-Assar, a 60-year-old man displaced from Gaza City in the north, commended Washington's stance.

"The decision is in favour of the Palestinian people, and hopefully, Israel will comply with it," he said.