United Nations demands humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

The United Nations on Tuesday demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war after more than three-quarters of the 193-member General Assembly backed the move, which had been vetoed by the United States in the Security Council last week.

The United States does not have a veto in the General Assembly. It voted against the resolution, along with Israel and eight other countries. The resolution was adopted to a round of applause with 153 votes in favor, while 23 countries abstained from the vote.

Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people and saw 240 people taken hostage. Gaza’s health ministry says 18,205 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 50,000 wounded.

General Assembly resolutions are not binding but carry political weight, reflecting a global view on the war.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the General Assembly before the vote that there were aspects of the resolution that the U.S. supported, such as the need to urgently address the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, protect civilians and free hostages.

The General Assembly resolution also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and that the warring parties comply with international law, specifically with regard to the protection of civilians.

Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram argued against both the proposed amendments to name Hamas, saying that any blame “has to be placed on both parties, especially on Israel.”

Most of the 2.3 million people in Gaza have been driven from their homes and the United Nations has given dire warnings about the humanitarian situation in the coastal enclave, saying that hundreds of thousands of people are starving.

The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7.