At a Security Council meeting to address the situation in Gaza, the United States’ deputy ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, was the first diplomat to rebuke Israel for bombing a displacement camp in Rafah (southern Gaza Strip) on Sunday. , after having declared it a “safe zone”.

“Israel said the civilian deaths were a mistake, (…) but Israel must do more to protect innocent Palestinians in Gaza,” said Robert Wood.

“Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, but Israel also has an obligation to protect civilians. The fact that Hamas leaders and fighters hide among civilians does not diminish the need for Israel to conduct its operations in accordance with the international humanitarian law”, he added.

The American diplomat also argued that the continued pattern of “significant civilian damage” resulting from attacks like Sunday’s “undermines Israel’s strategic objectives in Gaza” and defended the existence of “alternatives to a large-scale Israeli operation” in Rafah to defeat the Islamist group Hamas.

In his speech, Wood also called on Israel to “remove any barriers at crossings and routes” for the delivery of humanitarian aid and urged Tel Aviv to unblock Palestinian funds frozen in Israeli banks.

One of the most critical voices of Israeli actions was that of Guyana’s permanent representative to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who rejected the justifications given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for one of the bloodiest massacres of this war, with dozens of fatalities and hundreds injured in the bombing of the displacement camp on Sunday.

“It seemed that the Gaza crisis could not get worse until we learned about the events of last Sunday. (…) People were burned alive, and all this in an area designated as safe, a frightening reminder that there are no safe places in Gaza” , said the ambassador.

“This Council must not continue to accept the all-too-familiar explanations that these incidents are ‘mistakes’ or ‘miscalculations’. There is no justification for the murder of innocent civilians,” he stressed.

Guyana demanded an “independent and rapid” international investigation to establish the facts surrounding Sunday’s attack, “including to identify the perpetrators”.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett went further and challenged the Security Council to “seriously consider” the “blatant disregard for the rule of law”, referring directly to Israel’s lack of compliance with orders issued by the International Court of Justice, the highest court UN court ordering Tel Aviv to cease its offensive in southern Gaza.

The French ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière, also returned today to pressure the Security Council to make an urgent statement on the situation in Rafah and to call for an end to the Israeli offensive.

Rivière recalled that the UN Security Council has already adopted three resolutions on the end of fighting and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, stressing that these are “binding and must be respected”.

Since the unprecedented attack by the Islamist group Hamas against Israel on October 7, 2023, and the start of Israeli reprisals in the Gaza Strip, the Security Council has struggled to speak with one voice.

After two resolutions focused mainly on humanitarian aid, the UN body – whose resolutions are binding – finally demanded an “immediate ceasefire” at the end of March, an appeal that had been consecutively blocked by the United States, Israel’s strong allies. , who this time abstained.

Although Security Council resolutions are theoretically binding – and not just symbolic, like those of the General Assembly – the approved resolutions had no effect on the ground, as Israel refused to implement them.

On Tuesday, Algeria circulated among the member states of the UN Security Council a “short” and “decisive” draft resolution “to stop the killing in Rafah”.

However, there is the possibility that Washington will use its veto power again, taking into account today’s statements by Robert Wood, who stated that a new resolution “would not help” and “would not change the situation on the ground”.

The text, for which there is still no date for voting, also demands “an immediate ceasefire respected by all parties” and “the unconditional release of all hostages”.

Read Also: UN Experts: Attack on Rafah was “indiscriminate and disproportionate”


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