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US vetoes UN security resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing above buildings during Israeli bombardment on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing above buildings during Israeli bombardment on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP via Getty Images)

The US on Friday vetoed a United Nations demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Thirteen Security Council members voted in favour of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while the UK abstained.

The vote came after UN Secretary General formally warned the 15-member council of a global threat from the two-month long war, which was sparked by a brutal Hamas assault on Israeli civilians on October 7.

“It's not an issue about isolation. It's an issue about what we think is best to try to end this conflict as soon as possible and also to help facilitate more humanitarian assistance going into Gaza," Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told reporters ahead of the vote.

“We can't just snap our fingers and the conflict stops. This is a very, very difficult situation,” he said.

Washington and Tel Aviv both oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas, who have called for the destruction of Israel.

Instead, the US has made clear that it supports pauses in the fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

An agreed seven-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended on December 1 as the IDF refocused its offensive on the southern region of the enclave.

Last month, the security council called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access to Gaza, which Mr Guterres has described as a “spiralling humanitarian nightmare”.

On Friday Mr Guterres said Hamas’ brutality against Israelis on October 7 “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

“While indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations,” he said.

The Israeli military said it had struck more than 450 targets in Gaza from land, sea and air on Thursday and Friday - the most since the truce with Hamas collapsed last week.

Residents and the Israeli military both reported intensified fighting in both northern areas, where Israel had previously said its troops had largely completed their tasks last month, and in the south where they mounted a new assault this week.