'Stop the war,' Gazans say after UN vote

The resolution is aimed at increasing aid and setting the conditions for a reduction in violence

Palestinian children, displaced by the Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis, seek shelter inside an agricultural tent in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 20, 2023. AFP
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Many Gazans regard the UN Security Council resolution, written to increase aid and reduce violence, as a positive move but also urge an end to the war that has devastated the strip.

Rami Abu Taama, who fled Gaza city in the north to Khan Younis in the south, said that the implementation of the resolution must guarantee that aid flows again into the enclave after weeks of strikes and street battles between the Israeli army and the Hamas militant group.

“The aid that entered Gaza is nothing and doesn't cover the needs of the residents,” he told The National on Saturday.

“What were they waiting for?”

After four postponements this week, the UAE-crafted resolution received 13 votes in favour and two abstentions from the US and Russia.

The resolution is aimed at increasing aid to the Gaza Strip and setting the conditions for a reduction in violence, as the world body said Israel's assault on the Palestinian enclave is pushing it towards famine.

The UN Security Council was initially set to vote on the resolution on Monday. Still, as it became clear the US would veto the initial proposal, diplomats spent days working on a version that would satisfy Washington, Israel's benefactor that had vetoed earlier calls for a ceasefire.

The adopted text calls for “urgent steps to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access immediately, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli military launched its offensive in response to attacks by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7. At least 8,000 children and 6,200 women are among those killed, according to the local health authorities.

Khaleel Al Borno, another resident of Gaza city who is also now in Khan Younis, expressed his hope that the resolution would bring food to his children because “we have reached a point where our hopes are only to feed our children”, he told The National.

“We want a resolution that stops violations against us and the war,” he said. “I am so sad that our case turned to food and water instead of freedom and ending the Israeli occupation.”

The conflict has displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.2 million and devastated its infrastructure, particularly health facilities. Strict Israeli checks have slowed the delivery of aid into the territory.

According to a study by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, the UN's hunger monitoring system, more than one in four households in Gaza face extreme hunger. There are about 335,000 children under the age of five who are at a high risk of severe food deprivation, which can have fatal consequences.

As the UN Security Council passed the long-awaited resolution, the Israeli army bombed Gaza and raided towns in the occupied West Bank in the early hours of Saturday.

Ahmad Abu Rida, who is sheltering in a hospital now after being forced to flee his home, told The National: “This resolution is not enough, we are not asking for aid, we are asking for stopping the war completely.”

“We want to go back to our homes.”

Like Mr Abu Rida, Mahmoud Massoud said that “providing food is one of our rights and is supposed to be granted already”.

“We want to reach a resolution to end the war, compensate people for the losses, and rebuild Gaza. We want them to guarantee not to immigrate us and that we will stay in our lands.”

Updated: December 23, 2023, 10:02 AM