The UN Security Council reflects power relations (Picture: UN)

The US has blocked a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution on Friday calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza”.

Britain abstained, an act almost as vicious as the US, but with a dash of added camouflage and cowardice. Britain and the US are urging on the genocidal logic of the Israelis. Their sighs about the number of civilian deaths are hypocritical and empty.

The Security Council is the UN’s “enforcer” body. It has five permanent members—China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States—and ten non-permanent members elected by all the other UN countries.

For a motion to pass on the Security Council, it must win nine Yes votes—and attract no veto from any of the permanent five. The ceasefire motion won 13 votes, but the US veto meant it fell.

Introducing the motion, Mohamed Issa Abushahab, from the United Arab Emirates said that for many Gazans, “their entire world is systematically demolished before their eyes”.

Riyad Mansour, from the “ Observer State” of Palestine to the UN, said the Israeli bombardment “placed every possible impediment on humanitarian aid and access.”

“And we are all supposed to pretend that this aggression is not aimed at the destruction of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip when it has besieged and bombed our people and deprived them of all requirements of life?”, he said.

“I keep reading in the media that Israel has no clear war objectives, are we supposed to pretend that we don’t know the objective is the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip?” he continued.

He told the assembled state representatives, “When you refuse to call for a ceasefire, you are refusing to call for the only thing that can put an end to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This is how Israel is conducting the war, through atrocities.”

In his speech to the Security Council, the US ambassador to the UN, Robert Woods, described Israelis as “Our people”.  He repeated that Israel has a right to defend itself and said the UN Security Council has failed to condemn Hamas’ 7 October attack on the Israeli state.

Britain’s foreign secretary David Cameron had always said Britain would not support a ceasefire. “If you stop now with Hamas in charge of even part of Gaza, there can never be a two-state solution,” he said—as if such a solution was on the table.

The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres invoked the rarely-used Article 99 of the UN charter to bring the motion for an immediate ceasefire to the Security Council. 

He said, “We are at breaking point” and “There is a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, which would have devastating consequences.”

But Guterres’s pleas ultimately meant nothing, along with all the votes from other countries for a ceasefire. 

This episode should not be used to prettify the role of the UN. It would have been a blow to Israel if the vote had gone through because it would have signified that the US had abandoned its watchdog at least temporarily. But ti would not in itself have ended the bombing.

The UN is a place of deals, cover-ups, bribery and bullying by imperialists of all stripes.

For the US it was useful for cover when it invaded Iraq in 1991. But it was then cast aside and ignored when it refused to back the US invasion in 2003.

Ultimately US imperialism still calls the shots.  The fight for freedom takes place on the streets, not in the diplomatic halls.

Join the  march for Palestinian freedom, a full ceasefire and to stop the war on Gaza, Sat 9 Dec, 12 noon, Bank, London EC3V 3LA Details and route here
Edinburgh, Palestine Day of Action, Sat 9 Dec, 12 noon Barclays protest, 12 noon Scottish Parliament, 1pm Waverley Bridge. Details here

Israelis murder Refaat Alareer, the ‘voice of Gaza’

The Israeli state murdered Palestinian writer, activist and academic Refaat Alareer along with several members of his family on Thursday.

Ramy Abdu, the founder of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, said that he believed that Israeli soldiers “targeted, went after and killed the voice of Gaza, one of its best academics, a human, my dear and precious friend.” 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Israeli state indeed targeted Refaat . He was a threat to them. 

His commitment to exposing the brutal reality of life under occupation and battling the endless dehumanisation of Palestinians by the Zionists and the West was a rallying call to many. 

Refaat Alareer

As a professor of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, Refaat wrote extensively and encouraged others to write about life in Gaza. 

He was the editor of Gaza Writes Back, a compilation of stories written by 15 young people who lived in Gaza. Refaat also founded the We Are Not Numbers organisation, which provided writing workshops for young Palestinians. 

In the last two months many more people were introduced to Refaat through his Twitter account, where he routinely blasted the Zionists and imperialist leaders in the West. 

He announced his steadfast support for the Palestinian resistance on his account and every other platform. And his last Twitter post was, “The Democratic Party and Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel.”

When he was invited onto the BBC to speak about Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel, he described the assault as “legitimate and moral.” 

The BBC felt it had to apologise for his comments and promised Refaat would never be invited on their channel to speak again. 

In October, he spoke via video link to a packed room at a Socialist Workers Party meeting on Palestine (go to 19 minutes, 45 seconds here). At this meeting, he applauded the millions on the streets for Palestine in London, across Britain, Europe, and the Arab world.

He added that it meant that “More people are learning about Palestine, increasing their activism around Palestine. This must continue and grow. I urge you to reject the Israeli lies.

“Israel lies about everything. In Gaza, we say that if Israel says one plus one is two, then check your maths.

“And we have to punish the politicians who go along with the lies. Punish Keir Starmer and David Lammy for their part in the inhumanity of cutting off food and water and fuel to the people of Gaza.”

In the piece entitled, Gaza Asks: When Shall this Pass? Refaat wrote in 2022, “It shall pass, I keep hoping. It shall pass, I keep saying. Sometimes, I mean it. Sometimes I don’t. And as Gaza keeps gasping for life, we struggle for it to pass, we have no choice but to fight back and to tell her stories. For Palestine.”

A foul Israeli crime in Beit Lahia

Israeli forces rounded up, stripped naked and marched through the streets around 100 Palestinians from the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza in a brutal and humiliating act of cruelty by the Israeli army. 

The images of the attack, which emerged on social media and messaging app Telegram on Thursday, show lines of Palestinians that the Israeli army forced to kneel on the ground in a rocky canyon.  

A senior Hamas official accused Israeli forces of carrying out a “heinous crime against innocent civilians”.

The pictures will likely remind anyone of the torture and brutalisation of Iraqis by Western troops during the invasion of Iraq, or the torment of detainees by the US at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Bagram airbase  and at Guantanamo Bay. 

Zahrat lives near Nablus in the West Bank. She was filled with horror seeing the shocking images. 

“The occupation forces are now gathering the civilian population from their homes, leaving them without clothes,” she told Socialist Worker. 

“The whole world watches silently. What did these innocent civilians do? We are being subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Please have mercy, world spectator. You can do a lot for us.” 

The image was shared by Israeli war correspondent Itay Blumental, who described those in the picture as “Terrorists who handed themselves over to Israeli soldiers.” 

But the Israeli army was later forced to admit that those they kidnapped were civilians.  

The image was then shared by Israeli soldiers and others on messaging app Telegram and on social media as a way to further humiliate the Palestinians. 

The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King captioned a picture of the Palestinians rounded up by the Israeli army as “Hundreds of Muslim Nazis, what do you think their sentence should be?” 

One of the Palestinians who was kidnapped told reporters, “The occupation soldiers stripped arrested us and put us in trucks. Then they ordered some of us to return home and kept others in detention.

“We returned to find that most of the homes we left from had been burned.”

The Israel state continued its bloody assault on Gaza on Friday. The number of Palestinians murdered by Israel in Gaza has now officially reached almost 17,500 since 7 October. 

Ibtisam, who lives in Deir al Bala in central Gaza told Socialist Worker on Friday,

“Yesterday a whole building full of ten families was destroyed by rockets in Jabalia. With these rockets the Israeli forces erased people’s lives and memories.

“Two months have passed and the only food that people have to eat is canned food. Flour is about to run out. Shelters are excessively crowded and aid does not meet people’s needs. 

“All people are suffering from fatigue, panic and a deep depression. The death, losses and damages are beyond description so everyone feels grief.” 

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