Thursday, May 23, 2024

The UN and other officials stated on Saturday that the recent UN Security Council resolution aimed at intensifying aid distribution to the increasingly hungry and sick citizens of the Gaza Strip will fail to put a stop to the growing humanitarian crisis because it did not push for an end to the fighting. The resolution given the go-ahead on Friday instructs the United Nations secretary general to designate any aid coordinator to Gaza and arrange a system that will expedite the delivery of crucially needed food, water, fuel, and medicine. However, it does not call for a ceasefire. Even with enough aid coming in through the borders, aid officials have pointed out that they would be unable to distribute it amidst Israel’s regular airstrikes and a ground invasion turning the majority of Gaza into a combat zone.

After 11 weeks of war, there has been a rising international concern about the more than two million people in the territory, mostly displaced from their homes and crammed into overcrowded, unhygienic conditions. More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing conflict, with about 70 percent being women and children, mostly as a result of Israeli aerial bombardment. Gaza’s population now faces a situation of extreme emergency and beyond, yet the Security Council resolution does not tackle this issue.

The Israeli government has been blamed by Human Rights Watch for using the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, identifying it as a war crime. The Israeli military has continued with deadly battles and has requested civilian evacuations from the areas with the most intense fighting, leading to people being forced into a shrinking, densely populated part of Gaza. There is an ongoing argument within Israel about whether it is possible to achieve the government’s aim of toppling Hamas, as the group’s tunnel system has turned out to be larger than originally thought.

The Security Council resolution was carefully negotiated to bypass objections from the United States, which had vetoed earlier resolutions calling for a ceasefire. The Biden administration has supported Israel’s stance that stopping the offensive would allow Hamas to rearm and continue to attack Israel. The resolution, passed with a vote of 13-0, with the United States and Russia abstaining, solely focused on aid distribution and was silent on a cessation of hostilities.

Before the war, about 500 trucks a day delivered aid to Gaza, with at least 200 per day needed to sustain the population. However, the Israeli government cut off all deliveries in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks before resuming them on a very limited basis. Last week, Israel opened its only cargo crossing to aid trucks, but the daily numbers still fell short of the requirement. There still remains a considerable challenge in the distribution of aid beyond the border as confirmed by Juliette Touma, a U.N.R.W.A. spokeswoman.

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