Friday, January 09, 2009

UN call for peace is ignored

US abstains from UN vote to stop ongoing conflict in Gaza

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Gaza strip [BBC]. But despite the resolution, Israel continues to bombard the region. Hamas still continue to fire rockets into Israel though the number of daily shells is considerably lower than a week ago.

The French-Egyptian proposal was not given the full support by the United States who abstained from the vote. Although the US agreed with “the text of the resolution”, Condoleezza Rice said that they had wanted to “give Israel more time”.

Despite the passing of the resolution, the US abstention was seen by some commentators as giving a green light to Israel to continue its war against Hamas. The resolution not only called on both sides to stop fighting but sought to end the flow of weapons into the Gaza region, something that would not only be difficult to enforce, but would likely be ignored by Hamas militants.

Israeli forces have found vast stockpiles of weapons as ground forces sweep through some of the towns. But along with the apparent progress of disarming the militants, Israel is running the risk of becoming embroiled in a guerrilla war. It is also running into a barrage of criticism as the civilian death toll mounts. At least 781 people have been killed, and 3,330 injured in the conflict, many of them ordinary Gazans. At least a third are said to be children and gruesome pictures of young bullet ridden victims have been aired on some television news channels such as al-Jazeera and Press TV.

CNN, the BBC and Sky News have tended to leave the horror to the viewers imagination, describing the scenes on the ground rather than displaying the carnage. Most media organisations remain on the sidelines, still unable to report from within Gaza itself despite constant requests to be allowed in. The Israeli relented slightly on Wednesday and allowed a television crew from the BBC to travel with them into the strip. However their movements were strictly controlled and the video footage had to pass military censors before being aired.
Israel faces an ever growing public relations war as the death toll in Gaza mounts and more grim pictures are disseminated in the media. The situation has prompted widespread demonstrations. Some of the protests have also turned violent with clashes seen between demonstrators and police. Members of the media have also become embroiled in the violence. On Friday an al-Jazeera cameraman was beaten and arrested by police in Amman, Jordan while covering a large protest there.

Despite the protests and UN resolution, Israel seems resolute in continuing its fight with Hamas. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has described the UN resolution as “unworkable” and said the IDF would continue to root out the enemy. Hamas has also rejected the proposals.

The rejection by both sides now leaves the diplomatic efforts in tatters and little hope for any lasting peace [BBC / Sky News / CNN / al-Jazeera / Press TV]

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