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Israel-Hamas war: UN Security Council passes Gaza resolution

Published December 22, 2023last updated December 23, 2023

The UN Security Council resolution calls for more aid deliveries and for steps "to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities." It follows days wrangling over the wording. DW has the latest.

Members of the United Nations Security Council sit in a round room. Some delegates have their has raised.
Several days of negotiations were needed to find wording that would avoid a third US veto at the UN Security CouncilImage: DAVID DEE DELGADO/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The long-awaited Security Council resolution stops short of calling for an immediate halt in fighting
  • The US and Russia both abstained in the vote, but no permanent member of the Security Council vetoed it
  • More than 20,000 killed in Gaza since start of war, Hamas-led ministry reports
  • A UN-backed report warns of acute hunger in Gaza
  • Hostage talks in Egypt so far inconclusive
Skip next section US says Iran 'deeply involved' in Houthi Red Sea attacks
December 23, 2023

US says Iran 'deeply involved' in Houthi Red Sea attacks

Washington has accused Iran of involvement in attacks on ships passing through the Red Sea.

Yemen's Houthi militant group has repeatedly targeted vessels passing through the crucial Bab al-Mandeb strait, citing its opposition to Israel's offensive in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

"We know that Iran was deeply involved in planning the operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea," US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

"This is consistent with Iran's long-term materiel support and encouragement of the [Houthis'] destabilizing actions in the region," she said.

"We have no reason to believe that Iran is trying to dissuade the Houthis from this reckless behavior."

Skip next section Hamas calls UN Security Council resolution on Gaza 'insufficient'
December 23, 2023

Hamas calls UN Security Council resolution on Gaza 'insufficient'

The militant Islamist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has called the UN Security Council resolution demanding increased aid deliveries into the territory "insufficient." 

"During the past five days, the U.S. administration has worked hard to empty this resolution of its essence, and to issue it in this weak formula... It defies the will of the international community and the United Nations General Assembly in stopping Israel's aggression against our defenseless Palestinian people," Hamas’ statement read. 

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Germany and several other states. 

Skip next section UN's Guterres says Israel's offensive impeding aid, as Israeli ambassador condemns UN
December 22, 2023

UN's Guterres says Israel's offensive impeding aid, as Israeli ambassador condemns UN

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip the "real problem" in the territory's humanitarian crisis.

"Many people are measuring the effectiveness of the humanitarian operation in Gaza based on the number of trucks [...] that are allowed to unload aid across the border," said Guterres. "This is a mistake."

"The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza," he said.

Guterres went on to call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

"I hope that today's resolution will make people understand that a humanitarian cease-fire is indeed something that is needed if we want humanitarian aid to be effectively delivered," he said.

He also criticized "comments from senior Israeli officials that put the two-state solution into question," arguing that the solution remained "the only path to a sustainable peace."

Meanwhile, Israel's envoy, Gilad Erdan, condemned the United Nations in his response to the Security Council vote.

"The UN's focus only on aid mechanisms to Gaza is unnecessary and disconnected from reality. Israel is already allowing aid deliveries at the required scale," said Erdan. "The UN should have focused on the humanitarian crisis of the hostages."

Israel says 129 hostages are still in captivity following Hamas' October 7 attacks, more than half those who were initially taken.

The militant Islamist group is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Germany and several other states.

Skip next section Russian UN ambassador calls Gaza resolution 'toothless'
December 22, 2023

Russian UN ambassador calls Gaza resolution 'toothless'

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, has criticized a UN Security Council resolution on Gaza aid deliveries that was marked by compromises to avoid a US veto.

Both the United States and Russia, which are permanent members of the Security Council, abstained from the vote but did not veto. Washington has vetoed previous resolutions calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Nebenzia called the resolution "entirely toothless." Russia had supported the previous two motions with stronger language.

He accused Washington of "shameful, cynical and irresponsible conduct" and of using "gross pressure, blackmail and twisting arms" to change the content of the resolution.

Moscow's ambassador said the new resolution "would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for the clearing of the Gaza Strip."

Skip next section UAE says Gaza aid resolution 'not perfect,' continues calling for cease-fire
December 22, 2023

UAE says Gaza aid resolution 'not perfect,' continues calling for cease-fire

The United Arab Emirates has said it will continue calling for the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, after a compromise resolution on aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip passed the UN Security Council without a US veto.

"We know this is not a perfect text," said Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN. "We will never tire of calling for a humanitarian cease-fire."

The UAE sponsored the resolution. Nusseibeh said it "responds with action to the dire humanitarian situation."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, called the resolution a "step in the right direction."

Mansour represents the Palestinian National Authority, which is based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and is led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

UN says half a million people starving in Gaza

Skip next section US ambassador hails Security Council resolution as 'strong step forward'
December 22, 2023

US ambassador hails Security Council resolution as 'strong step forward'

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has called a UN Security Council resolution on Gaza aid deliveries "a strong step forward."

"This council provided a glimmer of hope among a sea of suffering," she said.

Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution "is fully supported by the Arab group that provides them what they feel is needed to get humanitarian assistance on the ground."

The US abstained from the vote after having vetoed previous resolutions.

Washington is one of Israel's most important allies and has blocked attempts to include a call for an immediate cease-fire in UN Security Council resolutions.

Skip next section UN Security Council resolution on Gaza passes on 3rd try, after several delays
December 22, 2023

UN Security Council resolution on Gaza passes on 3rd try, after several delays

The UN Security Council has managed, just before the Christmas weekend in the US, to pass a resolution on the conflict that had been in the works all week. 

Unlike in two previous votes, the US did not veto. 

The text demands the facilitation of "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale."

It also called for the creation of "conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities" without demanding an immediate end to the fighting.

The United States and Russia abstained from the vote on Friday.

The resolution requests the appointment of a UN humanitarian coordinator to oversee the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip.

It says that the delivery mechanism will be managed in consultation with "all relevant parties," including Israel.

An earlier draft had called for the aid mechanism to be put under exclusive UN control.

Skip next section European Commission to provide €118 million in aid to Palestinian Authority
December 22, 2023

European Commission to provide €118 million in aid to Palestinian Authority

The European Commission announced on Friday a €‎118 million ($130 million) aid package to support the Palestinian Authority on Friday.

The aid would help pay salaries and pensions of civil servants in the West Bank, social allowances for vulnerable families and the payment for medical referrals to east Jerusalem hospitals.

"This package should contribute to the stability of the Palestinian Authority," Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said.

The Palestinian Authority administers semi-autonomous areas of the occupied West Bank, and some Western leaders have said it could take control of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after the war.

"We are reflecting on a wider mid-term package for next year to contribute to the economic and political stability of Gaza and the West Bank, once conditions allow on the ground, as part of wider international efforts to reinstate a two-state solution," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The EU had already set aside €125 million in humanitarian aid for people in the besieged Gaza Strip, where EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said food shortages had reached unprecedented levels.

"This is a grave development and should be a wakeup call for the whole world to act now to prevent a deadly human catastrophe," the EU's top diplomat said.

Skip next section IDF carries out airstrikes in Lebanon
December 22, 2023

IDF carries out airstrikes in Lebanon

The Israeli Air Force bombed Hezbollah military targets and infrastructure in Lebanon, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The military also said it hit Hezbollah launch sites with artillery after "a number" of cross-border launches toward Israel were detected.

The border between Israel and Lebanon has seen increasingly violent confrontations since the beginning of the war on October 7, sparking fears of a larger regional conflict.

Iran-backed Hezbollah — a political party with a military wing — is designated, wholly or in part, as a terrorist organization by the EU, US, Israel and Germany, among others.

Skip next section Photos from the Israel-Hamas war
December 22, 2023

Photos from the Israel-Hamas war

Here are some of the latest images of the impact of the war between Israel and Hamas. 

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip.
Even as diplomatic efforts continued, fighting in the Gaza Strip intensified with Israeli bombardments in the north and south and Hamas firing rockets at Tel AvivImage: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP Photo/picture alliance
Israeli soldiers carry the flagged covered coffin of Sergeant Lavi Ghasi as family and friends follow during his funeral in Modiin, Israel.
Israel says 139 of its soldiers have died in its ground offensive against Hamas militants in GazaImage: Ariel Schalit/AP Photo/picture alliance
Morgue worker Hamad al Najjar prays over bodies of Palestinians killed in the ongoing ground operation by Israel's military in the Gaza Strip.
20,057 Palestinians have been killed and 53,320 injured in Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.Image: Bassam Masoud/REUTERS
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip
An interagency UN and NGO report found that half a million people in Gaza, one-quarter of the population, are starving due to "woefully insufficient" quantities of food entering the territory since the outbreak of hostilities.Image: Fatima Shbair/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section More than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza
December 22, 2023

More than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip
The number of Palestinians killed in Israel-Hamas war has surpassed 20,000Image: Fatima Shbair/AP Photo/picture alliance

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 20,057, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. 

The figure represents almost 1% of the territory's prewar population.

The Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties but said the vast majority of those killed were women and children. Israel sometimes questions the trustworthiness of the figures, given Hamas' influence over Gaza's Health Ministry. Still, the UN and other observers have said the figures provided in the past proved to be generally reliable.

The Health Ministry added that more than 53,000 people have been wounded in Gaza, and 85% of the enclave's population of 2.2 million has been displaced.

The Israeli military, which has come under heavy international criticism for the number of casualties in Gaza, attributes the civilian deaths to Hamas' strategy of utilizing densely populated residential areas for military purposes.

Israel has said its objective is to eliminate Hamas' military capabilities.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Israel and others.

Skip next section UN Security Council Gaza vote delayed again
December 22, 2023

UN Security Council Gaza vote delayed again

The United Nations Security Council  has again postponed a vote on a repeatedly-delayed resolution on the war between Hamas and Israel, although a compromise agreement appears to have been reached. 

The postponement to Friday came even as the United States, which has opposed a string of proposals during the drafting of the resolution, said it was ready to support the text in its current form.

Several countries had to consult with their governments, it was said.

After days of delays, the latest draft is understood to include calls for "urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities."

Members of the UN Security Council reached a compromise on the controversial issue of how the humanitarian goods are to be checked.

The checks are to be carried out by a newly appointed UN coordinator. In cooperation with all actors, this coordinator should also ensure the acceleration of international aid.

The text is the result of intensive negotiations involving the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. It does not call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

Skip next section What has been happening in the hostage talks?
December 22, 2023

What has been happening in the hostage talks?

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo for a second day of negotiations about hostage releases, which ended late on Thursday.

Mediators, including Egypt and Qatar, have previously met separately with Israel and Hamas, as well as other groups. In Cairo, there are no details on who might be engaging with Israeli delegates.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said negotiations on a hostage release were continuing but declined to provide details.

Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union, has insisted it will not discuss anything less than a complete end to the Israeli offensive in Gaza. 

US President Joe Biden struck a note of caution on Wednesday, given major differences that still exist between the sides. 

"There's no expectation at this point, but we are pushing," he said. Regarding the rising death toll in Gaza, Biden said: It's tragic."

Skip next section UN-backed report warns of mass starvation in Gaza
December 22, 2023

UN-backed report warns of mass starvation in Gaza

A report released Thursday by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) claimed the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million residents were currently facing high levels of acute food insecurity, and that the situation could deteriorate drastically if the status quo persisted.

The IPC forecast that by February 7, at current rates, "the entire population in the Gaza Strip" would be at "crisis or worse" levels of hunger on its five-level scale. 

The organization said famine conditions were yet to take hold, but warned this transition was highly likely unless the situation improved. 

Food and water have become increasingly scarce in Gaza since Israel began retaliatory military strikes and a ground invasion in the enclave, in response to October 7 attacks launched from Gaza by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

Israel immediately blockaded the region after the attack — which killed nearly 1,300 Israelis — cutting off deliveries of fuel, medicine, food, and water. Although it later allowed a trickle of aid in through Egypt, UN agencies say only 10% of Gaza's food needs have been entering for weeks.

UN highlights dire humanitarian situation in Gaza

dh/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)