Humanitarian conditions in Gaza worsen as Israel widens its offensive
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the fast-deteriorating humanitarian system now risks a total collapse.
The United Nations said 1.87 million people - more than 80% of Gaza's population -- have been driven from their homes since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, triggered by the deadly October 7 Hamas assault on southern Israel.
The UN also says that all telecom services have been shut down due to cuts in the main fibre routes. On Wednesday, the United Nations chief urged the UN Security Council to use its clout to avert “a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Here's what's happening in the war:
Arab nations fine-tuning proposed UNSC resolution
Arab nations at the United Nations are fine-tuning a proposed UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the two-month Israeli-Gaza war.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said Wednesday that it's essential that the UN's most powerful body demand a halt to the conflict following the resumption of bloodshed in Gaza after the end of a weeklong humanitarian truce on Dec 1.
Surrounded by members of the 22-nation Arab Group, Mansour also told reporters that a ministerial delegation from Arab nations and the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation headed by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister will be in Washington on Thursday to meet with US officials.
“On top of the agenda is this war has to stop,” he said. “A cease-fire has to take place and it has to take place immediately.”
Mansour said the national security adviser to US Vice President Kamala Harris contacted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning and that Abbas pressed for an immediate cease-fire and more humanitarian aid.
The United States, Israel's closest ally, has veto power in the Security Council and has not supported a cease-fire.
On Tuesday, US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters that the role of the Security Council in the Israeli-Gaza war “is not to get in the way of this important diplomacy going on on the ground...because we have seen some results, although not as great results as we want to see.”
A Security Council resolution at this time, he said, “would not be useful.”
Yad Vashem calls uni's response to antisemitism inadequate
Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial says it is alarmed by the congressional testimonies of the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The memorial claims the universities had an inadequate response to campus antisemitism that has flared during the Israel-Hamas war.
In a statement Wednesday, Yad Vashem accused the presidents of “minimising” and “contextualising” antisemitism.
“The positions taken by the three university presidents in their testimonies highlight a basic ignorance of history, including the fact that the Holocaust did not start with ghettos or gas chambers, but with hateful antisemitic rhetoric, decrees and actions by senior academics, among other leaders of society,” the statement said.
In recent weeks, the federal government has opened investigations into several universities, including Penn and Harvard, regarding antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.
The university presidents told a House Committee on Tuesday that there is a fine line between protecting free speech and allowing protests, while also combatting antisemitism.
The academic leaders said they were taking steps to combat antisemitism on campus, including increasing security and providing additional counselling and mental health support.
UN chief warns of possible humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza
The United Nations chief is urging the UN Security Council to use its clout to avert “a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the fast-deteriorating humanitarian system now risks a total collapse.
He reiterated his urgent call for a humanitarian cease-fire. He warned that Israel's bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza, who have no shelter or essentials to survive, will soon lead to a complete breakdown of public order.
Guterres wrote to the 15-member Security Council on Wednesday under Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time since he took the helm of the 193-member world body in 2017. It allows the secretary-general to bring to the council's attention any matter that he believes threatens international peace and security.
Guterres said the desperate conditions in Gaza and the breakdown of public order will make humanitarian assistance impossible. He warned that “an even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighbouring countries.”
“The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” Guterres said.