Israel killed at least 20,000 Palestinians since 7 October, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said on 20 December, while negotiations are underway on a United Nations Security Council resolution that pleases the United States and avoids a third US veto of a ceasefire.
The United States is opposed to a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire, which is the major point of contention. The US wants to change the draft terminology from a ‘cessation of hostilities’ for to a ‘suspension of hostilities’.
The inspection of aid trucks entering Gaza for humanitarian purposes is another sticking point, as the current draft suggests UN involvement, which Israel opposes.
The Security Council vote was slated to take place on Tuesday, 19 December, but was postponed several times to avoid a US veto on the resolution. It is expected to take place today, on 21 December.
United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh, the sponsor of the Arab-backed resolution, confirmed that high-level discussions are taking place to reach an agreement on a text that can be adopted.
As negotiations continue, the focus is not only on immediate humanitarian needs but also on examining Israel’s rules of engagement. Recent incidents, including attacks on civilian sites and allegations of prisoner deaths, have only added to the widespread questions raised about Israel’s approach to the war.
Egypt is attempting to mediate a new truce between Hamas and Israel, as well as the release of additional Israeli hostages, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Cairo, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). However, US President Joe Biden said on 20 December that he does not expect a new deal to be reached soon.
Haniyeh reportedly rejected the idea of a temporary pause and demanded that Israel free all of its thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons in return for the over 100 hostages remaining in Gaza, and that Israel stop their attacks on the enclave immediately.
Qatar, Egypt, and the US mediated the previous truce agreement which led to the release of captives from both sides.
The mounting casualties in Gaza have become a focal point, drawing attention to the devastating impact of the ongoing violence. International aid groups warn of a catastrophic situation, with over 2.2 million people in Gaza facing dire conditions due to widespread destruction, displacement, and limited access to basic necessities like food, clean water, and medical care.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
Over 20,000.Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including nearly 8,000 children — and over 52286 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 259 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 3,365 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been de-escalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.