Israel-Hamas war live: UN security council to vote on Gaza ceasefire; Israel border crossing may open for aid checks | Israel-Hamas war

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UN security council to meet Friday and vote on Gaza ceasefire

The UN security council is to meet under acute pressure from Secretary-General António Guterres and will vote on urging an immediate ceasefire after weeks of war.

In a letter to the council on Wednesday, Guterres took the extraordinary step of invoking the UN charter’s Article 99, which states that the secretary-general may bring to the attention of the council “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

No one in his role had done this in decades.

Guterres wrote: “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”

After Guterres sent his urgent letter, the United Arab Emirates prepared a draft resolution that will be put to a vote on Friday, according to the delegation from Ecuador, which chairs the council this month and decides on scheduling issues, Agence France-Presse reports.

The latest version of this document was seen Thursday by AFP and calls the humanitarian situation in Gaza “catastrophic” and “demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

The short text also calls for protection of civilians, the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages Hamas is still holding, and humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

But the outcome of a vote is not clear – four earlier drafts presented since the war broke out were rejected by the security council.

The United States, Israel’s most powerful ally, which vetoed one of the earlier draft resolutions and rejects the idea of a ceasefire, has said a new resolution from the council at this stage would not be “useful.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Wednesday said Guterres’ tenure was “a danger to world peace” after he invoked Article 99.

Key events

The US secretary of state Antony Blinken has commented on the situation in Gaza. It was at a news conference after a meeting with the British foreign secretary David Cameron.

As we stand here almost a week into this campaign into the south … it remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection …

And there does remain a gap between … the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground

Reuters has characterised it as the strongest public criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war on Hamas in south Gaza.

Watch his comments here:

Antony Blinken says ‘gap’ between Israel’s intent to protect civilians and ‘actual results’ – video

Opening summary

It’s 6:33am in Gaza and Tel Aviv, just after sunrise. Welcome to our latest blog on the Israel-Hamas war. I’m Reged Ahmad and I’ll be with you for the next while.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said there is a “gap” between Israel’s “intent to protect civilians” in Gaza and what has been happening on the ground. Blinken, speaking at a news conference in Washington after a meeting with the UK’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, said: “It remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection.”

More on that in a moment but first – here’s a summary of the main developments so far:

  • Reuters is reporting that Israel has agreed, at the request of the US, to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing for only the screening and inspection of the humanitarian aid delivered into Gaza via the Rafah crossing, a senior US official said on Thursday. But there has been no time frame given for when the crossing might open.

  • The United Arab Emirates has asked for the UN security council to vote tomorrow on a draft resolution that demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, according to diplomats. The renewed push for a ceasefire, reported by Reuters, was made after the UN secretary general, António Guterres, took the rare step of invoking article 99 of the UN charter on Wednesday to notify the security council that the crisis in Gaza represented a threat to world peace.

  • The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, has said there is no longer a functioning humanitarian operation in southern Gaza, saying instead that the aid that is reaching civilians in the territory is “erratic”, “undependable” and “not sustainable”. Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Griffiths said the pace of the military assault in southern Gaza “is a repeat” of the assault in northern Gaza, and warned that there was nowhere safe for civilians in the southern part of the besieged territory.

  • Israel’s military has continued its heavy bombardment amid intense fighting in Gaza as its war with Hamas hit the two-month mark. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they had struck about 250 targets in Gaza over a 24-hour period, ending on Thursday morning. At the northern end of the Gaza Strip, there was heavy fighting in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

  • At least 350 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the course of 24 hours, the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry said in its latest update on Thursday. The cumulative total is 17,177 Palestinian deaths and 46,000 injured since the war began on 7 October, according to the ministry’s tally. About 20 people were killed in airstrikes that hit two homes in the residential part of Rafah in southern Gaza, according to witnesses. Rafah, a town on the southern border with Egypt, is where the IDF has told people to relocate to avoid areas likely to be bombed.

  • Israeli forces have given contradictory recommendations to Gaza civilians on where to seek refuge and humanitarian relief. Those who have fled to an IDF-declared “humanitarian zone” at al-Mawasi in the south-west corner of the Gaza Strip have depicted a desperate scene with no shelter and barely any food. The IDF, meanwhile, has not ruled out bombing the area.

  • Joe Biden spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu in a call on Thursday in which the US president “stressed that much more assistance was urgently required” across Gaza, the White House said. Biden “emphasised the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities” during his call with the Israeli prime minister, a readout of the call said.

  • The White House has said Israel and Hamas are not close to another deal on a new humanitarian pause. Discussions are happening “literally every day” on a possible new agreement, the White House’s national security council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. The Pentagon said the US military has resumed its flights of surveillance drones over Gaza to aid the search for hostages taken by Hamas.

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