Afghan Voice Agency (AVA) - Monitoring: The conflict has triggered alerts of an “apocalyptic” humanitarian situation with aid workers saying Gaza’s humanitarian system is on the verge of collapse, as disease and starvation threaten.
Washington’s veto on Friday was swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, whose health ministry put the latest death toll in Gaza at 17,700, mostly women and children.
While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the UN Security Council after the US vetoed the ceasefire resolution and described the world body as the ‘Israel protection council’, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said Pakistan was deeply disappointed that the UNSC had again failed to call for the ceasefire.
An Israeli strike on the southern city of Khan Yunis killed six people, while five others died in a separate attack in Rafah, the health ministry said.
Hamas health authorities said 71 dead arrived at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah alone over 24 hours, and 62 at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. They added 160 wounded were brought to Al-Aqsa hospital after persistent bombings.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, said it fired rockets on Saturday towards Reim in southern Israel.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas after its unprecedented attacks of Oct 7, when fighters broke through Gaza’s militarised border to kill about 1,200 people and seize prisoners, 138 of whom remain captive, according to Tel Aviv.
Vast areas of Gaza have been reduced to rubble and the UN says about 80 per cent population has been displaced, with dire shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine reported.
At Nasser hospital in the central city of Khan Yunis, an AFP correspondent saw a child on a makeshift stretcher and others simply sitting on the floor waiting to receive care.
Outside, firefighters poured water onto the flames of a burning building partly destroyed by an Israeli strike.
Into the abyss
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres triggered the rare Security Council vote by invoking a measure unused in decades.
He sought the council’s endorsement of a ceasefire because, he said, rapidly deteriorating conditions make it “impossible for meaningful humanitarian operations”, with potentially irreversible implications for regional peace and security.
However, the US on Friday vetoed the Security Council resolution.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said a ceasefire “would prevent the collapse” of Hamas which is allegedly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and would enable it to continue ruling the Gaza Strip. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he “holds the United States responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people” in Gaza after the US veto.
Avril Benoit, head of the Doctors without Borders charity, described the US veto as a “sharp contrast to the values it professes to uphold”.
Hamas denounced the veto as “a direct participation of the occupation in killing our people”.
Iran warned about the possible “uncontrollable explosion in the situation of the region” after US move.
One of only two partially operating hospitals in Gaza’s north, Al-Awda, “is surrounded by Israeli troops and tanks, and fighting is ongoing in its vicinity”, the UN said.
Nearby in Jabalia district, the soil in front of shuttered shops has been dug up and turned into a cemetery where men buried more bodies.
Alexandra Saieh, of Save the Children, spoke of “maggots being picked from wounds and children undergoing amputations without anesthetic.” The situation “is not just a catastrophe, it’s apocalyptic,” said Bushra Khalidi of Oxfam.
Violence has also surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the military says it has arrested 2,200 people since the conflict began.
UN, US under flak
Pakistan said it was deeply disappointed that the Security Council had once again failed to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, even in the face of a human tragedy of epic proportions taking place there.
Despite the invocation of Article-99 of the UN Charter by the secretary general and his warnings of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, the Council failed to perform its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security.
The collective punishment endured by the besieged people of Gaza is unprecedented and unacceptable, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
Pakistan reiterated its call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
“We urge the UN Security Council to act now, end this inhuman war, and protect the people of Gaza from an impending genocide,” the FO stressed.
The spokesperson said that the continuation of Israel’s campaign could trigger a wider and more dangerous conflict. A heavy responsibility rested on all who have contributed to the prolongation of the uninterrupted bombing of the people of Gaza, the FO added.
In Istanbul, Mr Erdogan while denouncing the UNSC after the US vetoed the ceasefire resolution said: “Since October 7, the Security Council has become an Israel protection and defense council.”
“Is this justice?” asked Mr Erdogan, adding that “the world is bigger than five,” a reference to the five veto-wielding nations in the UN Security Council.
“Another world is possible, but without America,” the Turkish leader said.
“The United States stands by Israel with its money and military equipment. Hey, America! How much are you going to pay for that?” he added./Dawn news