UN Security Council to consider urging Gaza ceasefire


The UN Security Council meets on Gaza Friday under acute pressure from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and will vote on urging an immediate ceasefire after weeks of ruinous war.
Even though the civilian death toll in the Palestinian territory is mounting and living conditions are described as catastrophic amid Israel’s bombardment, the outcome of the session is up in the air.
In a letter to the council on Wednesday, Guterres took the extraordinary step of invoking the UN charter’s Article 99, which states that the secretary-general may bring to the attention of the council “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
No one in his job had done this in decades.
Guterres wrote: “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”
He called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” to prevent “a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians” and the entire Middle East.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed hope that the council will heed Guterres’ urgent appeal.
Dujarric said that since Wednesday the UN chief has spoken with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and their counterparts from several other countries.
Israel has been pressing for the destruction of Hamas over the October 7 attack, when militants broke through Gaza’s border, killing around 1,200 people and seizing hostages, 138 of whom remain captive, according to Israeli figures.
The bloodiest ever war between Israel and Hamas is now in its third month, with the death toll in Gaza soaring above 17,000, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Israel’s relentless bombardment and shelling has reduced much of Gaza to rubble.
Israel is severely restricting the entry of food, water, fuel and medicine, and 1.8 million people (80 percent of Gaza’s population) have been forced to leave home to escape Israeli attacks.