US Gaza ceasefire plan endorsed by UN Security Council

Members of the UN Security Council vote to approve its resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan (AP)
Members of the UN Security Council vote to approve its resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan (AP)

The UN Security Council has voted to support a US-proposed Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan.

The proposal sets out conditions for a “full and complete ceasefire”, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of dead hostages’ remains and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

The resolution approved by the security council on Monday urges both Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

The US says Israel has accepted the three-phase plan that was unveiled by Joe Biden on May 31. The resolution called on militant Palestinian group Hamas, which initially said it viewed the proposal “positively”, to accept the plan.

Hamas responded saying it welcomed the resolution and was ready to work with mediators in indirect negotiations with Israel to implement it.

The statement was among the strongest from Hamas to date but stressed the group would continue “our struggle” to end the Israeli occupation and work on setting up a “fully sovereign” Palestinian state.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also began a new visit to the region on Monday in the shadow of the dramatic rescue of four Israeli hostages held in Gaza and turmoil in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, but neither made public remarks. Blinken will also travel to Israel, Jordan and Qatar.

While US president Joe Biden, Mr Blinken and other US officials have praised the hostage rescue, the operation resulted in the deaths of a large number of Palestinian civilians and may complicate the ceasefire push by emboldening Israel and hardening Hamas’ resolve to carry on fighting in the war it initiated with its October 7 attack into Israel.

Nearly 1,000 Palestinians were killed or injured during Israel’s military operation to rescue the hostages in southern Israel, the U.N. humanitarian office says, quoting a Gaza Health Ministry report.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report on Monday that large numbers of casualties from the Israeli operation were taken to Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, which is operating at nearly five times its capacity on only one electricity generator.

“Tens of injured people were lying on the floor amid severe shortages of medicines, medical consumables and fuel,” the UN office said.

The agency said the Gaza Health Ministry says that during Saturday’s intensive Israeli ground and air strikes at the An Nuseirat Refugee Camp, 274 Palestinians - including 64 children, 57 women and 37 elderly people - were killed and 698 others were injured.

The U.N. sent a mission to Al Aqsa hospital later Saturday and reported it was hosting about 700 patients, nearly five times its pre-war capacity. The U.N. agency said Nasser hospital in southern Khan Younis and Al Awda hospital in northern Gaza were also overwhelmed with injured from the Israeli attack.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the release of the four hostages, but he condemned the deaths and injuries to hundreds of Palestinians during the Israeli operation, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

Israeli Minister-Counsellor Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly said Hamas’ refusal to release some 120 hostages taken captive during its Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel through diplomacy means Israel’s efforts to bring them home must include military means.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,730 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. U.N. agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ October 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people - mostly civilians - and abducted about 250.