Another catastrophe

November 19, 2023

The United Nations Security Council finally passes a resolution calling for urgent humanitarian pauses in Gaza

Another catastrophe


ince October 7, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli forces. Around half of the deceased have been children, some of them babies. Around 30,000 civilians have sustained injuries. Importantly, hospitals have been bombed and ambulances attacked in the continuous catastrophe unleashed by the Netanyahu-led extreme-right government.

Many schools and universities, as well as other civil institutions, have been destroyed. Some roads have been dug up in, for example, Gaza City, by the Israeli authorities in order to hamper civilian relief efforts on the part of the Unites Nations and regional countries such as Saudi Arabia. There is a media and internet blackout due to non-stop bombardment of the Gaza strip by Israel. More than half of the population of Gaza has been forced to face another Nakba. Journalists, covering the horrific scenes say babies, women, adults and elderly are dying due to absence of medical facilities. The facilities are being bombed too. The journalists are being targeted to impede the overage of the ongoing genocidal war on the hapless people of Palestine who are being systemically expelled from their lands.

“Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day… more journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades… more United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organisation… the nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis… [it] is a crisis of humanity… the unfolding catastrophe in Gaza makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour,” lamented United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. Israeli diplomats have asked for his resignation for demanding an end to the Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

The Netanyahu government is adamant on prolonging the war with the aim to eliminate the Hamas leadership and infrastructure at the expense of civilians. Hospitals, i.e. Al-Shifa, in the Gaza strip are being bombed in the hope of capturing Hamas personnel and releasing Israeli hostages. As per various media reports, neither Hamas fighters nor hostages have been found in the destroyed hospitals.

Netanyahu, who faced corruption charges before October 7 and was facing a strong opposition as well as judiciary which he sought to revamp through controversial legislations, has found an opportunity to silence opponents through the war. He has repeatedly said that he would prolong the conflict because this is what suits his political agenda grounded in hyper-nationalism. The political opposition has questioned Netanyahu’s politics and military strategy, arguing that these have increased the insecurity for Israelis living in the southern parts. However, he is sticking around and arousing religious and nationalist sentiments particularly among the conservative sections.

Another catastrophe

The resolution introduced by Malta called for “corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days” to safeguard civilians, particularly children. It was adopted by 12 votes in favour, zero against and three abstentions – Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Another catastrophe

Netanyahu is also backed by the Biden administration both diplomatically and militarily. President Biden and his associates are supporting Netanyahu for political and economic reasons. Biden’s presidential campaign is heavily dependent on the riches of the wealthiest few who dominate various enterprises ranging from media to military-industrial complex. In other words, Biden is pursuing his electoral objectives by supporting Netanyahu’s genocidal policy vis-à-vis the imprisoned and bombed people of Palestine who are denied the right to exist. The UK and France have paid lip service when it comes to ceasefire in Gaza and even West Bank.

The overall response from the Muslim world has been dissimilar. The joint OIC-Arab League summit held in Saudi Arabia has not resulted in any concrete action. The Muslim countries are divided along religious, ethnic, commercial and strategic lines. The Saudi-led Arab world is moving cautiously due to its vulnerability and structural dependence on the Unites States. The United Arab Emirates, which opened diplomatic ties with Israel just recently, is apparently watching its own interests. A proposal to cut oil supply to Israel and its allies has gone unheeded. Pakistan has reiterated its principled position on the subject: that Palestine is an occupied territory, the conflict must be resolved in line with the United Nations two-state formula and the Palestinian diaspora have a right to return.

Medium-scale pro-Palestine protest demonstrations have been held across the Muslim world, including Pakistan. Comparatively more people, mostly non-Muslims, have taken to the streets in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Africa and Brazil. Progressives within the US have publicly questioned the Biden administration for supporting the Netanyahu-led genocidal war. The masses in many countries are demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank.

More of such voices are needed to pressure the Western governments to get the Israeli authorities to stop the genocide. Until then, the war is likely to go on, killing and injuring more civilians and demolishing more infrastructure.

On November 16, the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pause and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip” to allow for aid delivery and medical evacuations, after four failed attempts.

The resolution, introduced by Malta, also called for “corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days” to safeguard civilians, particularly children.

It was adopted by 12 votes in favour, zero against and three abstentions – Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The writer has a PhD in political science from Heidelberg University and a post-doc from UC Berkeley. He is a DAAD, FDDI and Fulbright fellow and an associate professor. He can be reached at

Another catastrophe