US blocks UN ceasefire as Gaza death toll rises amid Israeli strikes

bombardment of Gaza on Saturday

Gaza: Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza on Saturday, killing 11 people in two separate attacks, as the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the conflict with Hamas.

The US move drew sharp criticism from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as from humanitarian groups and Iran, who accused Washington of complicity in the bloodshed and warned of the risk of a regional escalation.

The health ministry in Gaza said the latest death toll in the enclave was 17,490, mostly women and children since Israel launched its offensive on October 7 in response to a deadly raid by Hamas militants across the border.

The ministry said that six people were killed in an Israeli strike on Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza, and five others died in another attack on Rafah, near the Egyptian border. It also said that 71 dead and 160 wounded had been brought to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the past 24 hours, following relentless bombings by Israel.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it fired rockets towards Reim in southern Israel, where Hamas gunmen had killed 364 people, according to Israel, at a music festival on October 7.

That attack, which also involved the kidnapping of 138 Israelis, whom Hamas still holds, triggered Israel’s vow to wipe out the Islamist group, which rules Gaza.

The UN estimates that about 80 percent of Gaza’s population has been displaced by the war and that the territory faces severe shortages of food, fuel, water, and medicine. The UN chief Antonio Guterres invoked a rarely used measure to seek the Security Council’s approval of a ceasefire, citing the “apocalyptic” humanitarian situation and the threat to regional peace and security.

However, the US on Friday blocked the resolution, saying it was unrealistic and would only encourage Hamas to continue its attacks. US envoy Robert Wood said the resolution was “divorced from reality” and “would leave Hamas in place able to repeat what it did on October 7”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen echoed the US stance, saying a ceasefire would allow Hamas to “continue ruling the Gaza Strip” and committing “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned the US veto, saying he held the US “responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people” in Gaza.

Avril Benoit, head of the Doctors Without Borders charity, also slammed the US move, saying it was a “sharp contrast to the values it professes to uphold”.

bombardment of Gaza on Saturday

There was anger and despair among the residents of Rafah, where an Israeli strike destroyed a residential area. Mohammed al-Khatib, who was searching for his belongings among the rubble, said the Security Council had never done anything for the Palestinian cause or people.

Hamas denounced the US veto as “a direct participation of the occupation in killing our people”.Iran, which supports Hamas, warned of the possible “uncontrollable explosion in the situation of the region” after the US move. Many of the 1.9 million Gazans who have fled their homes have sought refuge in Rafah, turning the city near the Egyptian border into a huge camp.