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Israel’s Rafah offensive raises tensions with Egypt: Gaza War live updates

Palestinians inspect some of the damage a day after an Israeli attack near a displaced persons camp in Rafah on Sunday sparked a fire that killed at least 45 people.Credit…Eyad Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Seeking to exploit outrage over Sunday’s Israeli attack that burned a camp and killed at least 45 displaced Palestinians, including children, many diplomats at the UN Security Council The United Nations is backing a new resolution this week demanding an immediate cessation of shooting and a halt to Israeli military operations in the city of Rafah.

But they will have to overcome opposition from the United States, which has a veto over the Council and has signaled that it will not support the resolution in its current form.

Algeria, the only Arab representative in the current composition of the Security Council, drafted and circulated a one-page resolution, which said that “Israel, the occupying Power, will immediately stop the offensive.” military offensive and any other actions in Rafah.” It called for “an immediate ceasefire respected by all parties, and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

The council held consecutive meetings on the war in Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday, first an emergency session behind closed doors on the attack on the camp in Rafah and then an open meeting monthly schedule on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Algeria’s resolution is expected to be put to a vote in the coming days.

“The human cost is obvious and terrible,” Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama told the Council on Wednesday. “These crimes speak for themselves.”

An anonymous US official said the US would block the current version of the resolution, which it considers unbalanced and problematic. He said that the United States had proposed a number of amendments.

In particular, this official said, the US does not want to pass a resolution calling on Israel to completely stop the military attack in Rafah, which Israeli commanders say is still a stronghold of the armed group Hamas. The Biden administration supports limited Israeli activities there.

As one of the five permanent members of the Council, the United States holds veto power and has used it to defeat three previous ceasefire resolutions since the war began in October. In March, the United States allowed the passage of a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire during Ramadan by abstaining.

In recent weeks, as the number of civilian deaths in Gaza has increased, US officials have publicly criticized Israel’s conduct of the war. According to the Gazan Health Ministry, at least 36,000 people were killed in Israeli bombing and ground operations, which did not distinguish between fighters and civilians. Health officials said the majority of the dead were women, children and other noncombatants.

Gaza authorities said at least 45 people were killed in Sunday’s strike and its fiery aftermath as a fire ripped through Kuwait al-Salaam camp, where displaced people were living in tents. Among the casualties was a toddler whose burned and headless body was shown in a video verified by The New York Times.

Robert A. Wood, deputy US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Council on Wednesday: “The continued pattern of significant civilian harm resulting from incidents such as Sunday’s airstrike undermines the goals Israel’s strategic goals in Gaza”. Mr. Wood added that Israel has the right to self-defense but also has “a duty to protect civilians.”

On Tuesday, senior officials in the Biden administration expressed horror at Sunday’s attack but said it was not part of a major ground operation and therefore did not cross America’s red lines. President Biden on refusing to ship weapons to Israel.

Algeria’s resolution also cited an emergency ruling last Friday by the United Nations’ top court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The ruling requires Israel to immediately halt military operations in Rafah, although Israeli officials say its wording leaves room for interpretation. This ruling was made after arguments by South Africa, the country that late last year brought the case accusing Israel of genocide to court.

Several Security Council diplomats said they hoped to vote on the resolution soon to capture the momentum and outrage created by Sunday night’s attack and to prevent, if possible, harming more civilians in Gaza. Extended negotiations to placate the United States would send the wrong signal about the Council’s resolve to act, diplomats said.

“This council must urgently express the situation in Rafah and demand an end to this attack,” French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said.


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