UN Security Council calls for 'full adherence' to Gaza ceasefire: statement

UN Security Council calls for 'full adherence' to Gaza ceasefire: statement
4 min read
In a statement on Saturday, the United Nations urged "full adherence to the ceasefire" in Gaza after an 11-day Israeli offensive killed hundreds.
The council urged for full adherence to the truce [Getty]

The UN Security Council on Saturday called for "full adherence to the ceasefire" between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in its first statement since Israeli bombardment began on May 10.

Security Council members also stressed "the immediate need for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza."

The statement received backing from the US delegation - which had blocked earlier drafts - only after the removal of a paragraph condemning the violence, a sensitive issue since it raised the question of blame. 

An earlier draft said that "Security Council members condemned all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as acts of provocation, incitement and destruction."

That draft also "expressed concern about the tensions and violence in east Jerusalem, especially in and around the holy sites, and urged for the respect of the historic status quo at the holy sites."

In a statement on Saturday, the Israeli foreign ministry thanked the United States "for its continued support for Israel and its right to defend its citizens," and it placed "full blame" for the recent violence on Hamas militants for firing retaliatory rockets at Israel.

"We expect that the international community condemn and disarm Hamas, and ensure Gaza’s rehabilitation while preventing the diversion of funds and weapons to terrorism," the statement said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian side.

The US delegation, always one of Israel's strongest supporters in the UN, had also rejected a French draft demanding an immediate end to hostilities and calling for the unimpeded distribution of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. 

The final statement, proposed by China, Norway and Tunisia, simply noted that the Council members "mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence."

It supported a call from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the international community to work with the UN to develop a "robust package of support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery."

The Council reiterated the importance of achieving comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where Israel and the Palestinians live side by side with secure borders.

The statement also recognised "the important role Egypt (and) other regional countries" played in it, as well as the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN. 

The devastating 11-day bombardment in Gaza claimed the lives of at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, while 12 people died in Israel, including one child. 

The Security Council is scheduled to take up the issue again on Thursday during a regular monthly meeting scheduled before the violence broke out.

A day after the ceasefire took hold on Friday, ending deadly Israeli airstrikes on the coastal enclave and the rocket fire out of it toward Israel, authorities were distributing supplies in Gaza, an AFP reporter said.

An estimated 72,000 people have been displaced, while humanitarian officials say the damage to property and infrastructure could take years to rebuild. 

'Israeli war crimes'

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch warned Israel’s recent bombardment of Gaza may amount to war crimes and highlights the importance of the role of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC).

“All the ongoing suffering, bloodshed, dispossession, and destruction should finally put to rest the tired notion that the court has no role to play in Palestine,” Balkees Jarrah, associate director at HRW’s International Justice Program, said in a statement.

The ICC opened an investigation into serious crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in March, following a landmark decision by the court’s judges. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is leading an investigation into unlawful Israeli settlements in the West Bank and alleged war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza war 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel considers the Hague-based court as "void of the authority" to begin investigating his country.

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have for years asked the ICC to investigate Israeli authorities for "crimes against humanity, apartheid and persecution".

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"The uncomfortable truth is that the appalling loss of civilian lives is the predictable result of past violations for which virtually no one responsible was held to account. Countries that fail to put a check on this impunity play a role in the dire consequences that flow from it," Jarrah said.

But "without more support from the international community, the probe may be in jeopardy", he added.

Israel has spared no efforts to shirk the court’s scrutiny.  Netanyahu has called on his allies to reject the investigation and sent the Minister of Defence to hold talks with his German and French counterparts, claiming Israel can its own inquiry.

"ICC member countries in particular need to ensure that the court’s independence is protected, and that it has sufficient means, cooperation, and political backing to effectively do its vital work on behalf of victims of grave abuses across its docket," Jarrah added.