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People inspect the damage after Israeli strikes in central Gaza Strip city of Deir el-Balah on Monday. Alamy Stock Photo
ongoing offensive

Israel continues strikes on Gaza despite UN ceasefire resolution

The resolution is the first to demand an immediate halt in the fighting since the current conflict began.


ISRAELI STRIKES ON Gaza are continuing today, with no sign of a let-up in the current conflict despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire”.

The resolution, which was adopted yesterday after Israel’s closest ally the United States abstained, demands an “immediate ceasefire” for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, leading to a “lasting” truce.

It also demands that Hamas and other militants free hostages that were taken during the 7 October attacks on Israel, though it does not directly link the release to a truce.

After the vote, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres led calls for the resolution to be implemented.

“Failure would be unforgivable,” he wrote on social media platform X.

His words were echoed by President Michael D Higgins, who added that an “immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages must now follow”. 

There has been a furious reaction from Israel to the US abstention, as it allowed the resolution to go through with all the other 14 Security Council members voting yes.

Israel cancelled the visit of a delegation to Washington.

It said that the abstention “hurts” both its conflict effort and attempts to release hostages, while Netanyahu’s office described it as “a clear retreat from the consistent position of the US”.

According to BBC, scheduled meetings between Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will still go ahead as planned. 

The resolution is the first to demand an immediate halt in the fighting since the current conflict began.

Washington insisted that its abstention, which followed numerous vetoes, did not mark a shift in policy, although it has taken an increasingly tougher line with Israel in recent weeks.

Hamas welcomed the Security Council resolution and reaffirmed its readiness to negotiate the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In a statement, the militant group accused Israel of thwarting the latest round of talks hosted by mediator Qatar.

Hamas said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet were “entirely responsible for the failure of negotiation efforts and for preventing an agreement from being reached up until now”.

China has welcomed the Security Council’s call for a ceasefire, noting the “conflict in Gaza is still raging, causing a serious humanitarian crisis”.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said China ”will continue to work with all parties to bring an early end to the fighting in Gaza, alleviate the humanitarian situation and promote the implementation of a two-state solution”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has she doesn’t think Israel has “changed their mind” in relation to its current approach to the conflict in Gaza. 

McGuinness said that voices are “growing” in support of Gaza in the EU. 

“There are now more countries realising that we cannot avert our gaze, that you have to look and see what’s happening on the ground,” she said.

“You have to listen to what the UN is saying and you cannot allow that children become the victims of something that they had nothing to do with, notwithstanding the horrors of what happened in October in Israel and that there are still hostages there.” 

Fighting continues

On the ground today, fighting raged on unabated.

In Rafah, witnesses said Israeli jets pummelled the city today. According to the Israeli army, anti-rocket sirens sounded in Israeli areas around the Gaza Strip.

While Rafah, like other areas around the Gaza Strip, has come under frequent Israeli strikes, it is the only part of the territory where Israel has not sent in ground troops.

palestinians-inspect-the-damage-of-residential-buildings-after-an-israeli-airstrike-in-rafah-southern-gaza-strip-sunday-march-24-2024-ap-photofatima-shbair Palestinians inspect the damage of residential buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah on Sunday Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Rafah borders Egypt, and 1.5 million Palestinians fleeing the rest of the devastated territory have sought refuge there.

Netanyahu’s determination to launch a ground operation in Rafah, the city on Gaza’s southern border where most of the territory’s population is sheltering, has become a key point of contention between Israel and the United States.

Death tolls

The current conflict began with Hamas’s 7 October attacks, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 are still held in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.

Vowing to destroy Hamas and free the captives, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion of the coastal territory.

The Palestinian health ministry yesterday put the Palestinian death toll at 32,333, most of them women and children.

Seventy people were killed early today, according to the ministry, including 13 in Israeli air strikes around the south Gazan city of Rafah, a key flashpoint in the conflict.

Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said yesterday it was battling militants around two hospitals and reported killing about 20 fighters around Al-Amal over the previous day in close-quarters combat and air strikes.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin and © AFP 2024