Connect with us

Published

on

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution that demands a ceasefire in Gaza for the rest of Ramadan.

The Muslim holy month began on 10 March and is set to finish on 9 April – meaning the council is calling for a two-week truce, though the proposal said the pause in fighting should lead “to a permanent sustainable ceasefire”.

The US abstained from the vote, with the 14 other council members – including Russia, China and the UK – voting in favour.

The resolution also demanded the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages – not linked to a timeline – and “emphasises the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to… the Gaza Strip”.

After the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a planned delegation visit to Washington as “the US withdrew from its consistent position”.

In a statement, Mr Netanyahu’s office said “the US did not veto the new text that calls for a ceasefire without the condition of releasing the abductees”, and called the American abstention a “clear retreat”.

“This withdrawal hurts both the war effort and the effort to release the hostages, because it gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to accept a ceasefire without the release of our hostages,” the office said.

More on Gaza

The Israeli delegation was to present White House officials with plans for an expected ground invasion of the strategic Gaza town of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinian civilians have sought shelter from the war.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Meanwhile, Hamas welcomed the UN resolution and said it “affirms readiness to engage in immediate prisoner swaps on both sides”.

Vote ‘does not represent policy shift’, US says

On Friday, Russia and China vetoed a US-sponsored resolution that would have supported “an immediate and sustained ceasefire” in the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The council had adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza since the start of the war but Friday’s proposal marked the first time the US has backed a resolution containing the word “ceasefire” – reflecting a toughening of the Biden administration’s stance towards Israel.

Read more:
Doctors facing ‘unimaginable’ situation in Gaza hospital
UN chief: ‘Choice is clear – surge or starvation’
Israeli spokesman suspended after reports of Foreign Office row

But the White House said after Monday’s vote that the US abstention “does not represent a shift in policy” and that the resolution “did not have language the US deems essential”.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the US “fully supports” the resolution’s “critical objectives” despite its abstention.

“In fact, they were the foundation of the resolution we put forward last week – a resolution that Russia and China vetoed.”

Resolution is a ‘significant moment’


Alex Rossi - Middle East correspondent

Alex Rossi

International correspondent

@alexrossiSKY

It’s been a long time coming but the United Nations Security Council has finally agreed to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The difficulties in getting to this point were reflected in the applause that broke out in the chamber after the vote went through.

The resolution was put forward by the non-permanent members – 14 members voted in favour with only the US abstaining.

On previous occasions, it has used its power of veto to support its ally Israel.

The fact the Americans did not this time makes this a significant moment and reflects the growing global consensus that the war must stop.

Read Alex Rossi’s full analysis here

Resolution ‘could have come months ago’

Emphasising that her country’s support for the objectives “is not simply rhetorical”, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the US “is working around the clock to make them real on the ground through diplomacy”.

She also said a ceasefire could have come “months ago” had Hamas been ready to release the hostages, accusing the Palestinian group of throwing roadblocks in the path of peace.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

US: Gaza ceasefire “non-binding”

“So today my ask to members of this council… is ‘speak out and demand unequivocally that Hamas accepts the deal on the table’,” she said.

The US had vetoed three previous resolutions demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, the most recent a measure backed by the 22-nation Arab Group at the UN on 20 February.

Vote ‘sends clear and united message’

In explaining the UK’s support of the proposal, Dame Barbara Woodward, the country’s ambassador to the UN, said she “regrets that this resolution has not condemned” the 7 October attack but welcomed the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the US.

She said: “The resolution sends a clear and united message on the need for international humanitarian law to be upheld and for aid to be scaled up urgently, including the lifting of all barriers impeding its delivery.

“We need to focus on how we chart the way from an immediate humanitarian pause to a lasting sustainable peace without a return to fighting.”

Pic: WHO/Reuters
A view of damage to the facade of Al-Awda Hospital, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza, in this still image taken from video released March 21, 2024. World Health Organization (WHO)/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
Image:
The damage to al Awda Hospital in Gaza in a picture taken last week. Pic: WHO/Reuters

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on social media after Monday’s vote that the resolution “must be implemented”, adding: “Failure would be unforgivable.”

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting in Gaza, according to the Hamas-led health ministry.

It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its toll, but says women and children make up two thirds of the dead.

The Israeli strikes were in retaliation for the 7 October attack, when Hamas killed around 1,200 people in southern Israel and took hundreds of others hostage.

Smoke rises during an Israeli raid at Al Shifa hospital and the area around it, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City, March 21, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Image:
Smoke rising during Israeli raid at al Shifa hospital in Gaza City last week. Pic: Reuters

Gaza also faces a dire humanitarian emergency, with a UN-backed report published last week stating “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza.

It added that an escalation of the war could push half of the territory’s 2.3 million people to the brink of starvation.

Continue Reading

World

Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Published

on

By

Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Palestinians in Rafah are reeling from a series of devastating Israeli airstrikes that have killed 22 people – including 18 children.

The last 48 hours, horrific even by Gaza’s standards, are an indicator of what may follow in any Israeli Rafah offensive.

Doctors told the Sky News team in Gaza how they saved the life of an unborn baby even as her mother was dying from head injuries.

Follow latest: Netanyahu vows to ‘increase pressure on Hamas in coming days’

“We tried to rescue the patient,” Dr Ahmad Fawzi said.

“We realised that she was pregnant.

“We had to do an emergency caesarean to save the baby.

“Thanks to God, we managed to save the baby.”

A medic holds a Palestinian newborn girl after she was pulled alive from the womb of her mother Sabreen Al-Sheikh (Al-Sakani), who was killed in an Israeli strike, along with her husband Shokri and her daughter Malak, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in this still image taken from a video recorded April 20, 2024. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Image:
The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

The little girl lies in an incubator.

She has no name but there is tape attached to her hand with writing that says: “The baby of the martyr Sabreen al Sakani”.

The baby’s mother Sabreen, her father Shoukri, and three-year-old sister Malak all died in the Israeli airstrike.

Her uncle says he will care for her now.

The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters
Image:
The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

Also in Rafah, another airstrike killed 17 children and two women all from the same extended family, say Palestinians.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the hospital as relatives mourned the children being placed in body bags.

A relative, Umm Kareem, told how the children were killed as they slept in their beds, saying: “These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?

“Pregnant women at home, sleeping children, the husband’s aunt is 80 years old.

“What did this woman do? Did she fire missiles? We complain about our concerns to God.”

The strikes, all in Rafah, have provoked unusually sharp criticism of Israel by the UK government.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Families mourn as airstrike kills children

Lord Ahmad, foreign minister for the Middle East, tweeted that he was “appalled by the Israeli strike, on a residential apartment in the densely populated Rafah in Gaza, which resulted in more children being killed”.

“We must stop this fighting immediately and bring an end to this conflict,” he added.

But there is no end in sight. Quite the opposite.

Read more:
Trail of destruction in Lebanon’s ‘ghost towns’
Situation in northern Israel ‘untenable’
Are Israel and Lebanon heading for war?

In an address to the nation ahead of Passover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used language from the Bible to hint at what might be coming for Rafah.

The enemy, he said, is “hardening its heart and refusing to let our people go”.

“Therefore, we will strike it with additional painful blows – and this will happen soon,” he added.

Israel’s government says it must take the fight to Hamas in Rafah to bring back its hostages and destroy the enemy, but far more civilians are being killed than Hamas fighters in this war.

Rafah is the most densely-populated area of Gaza. And when the offensive begins here, many more will die.

Continue Reading

World

Trail of destruction in Lebanon’s ‘ghost towns’ – as daily explosions fuel fears of escalating war

Published

on

By

Trail of destruction in Lebanon's 'ghost towns' - as daily explosions fuel fears of escalating war

The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon has told Sky News the dangers in the region have not gone away and called for calm, wisdom and de-escalation as a matter of urgency.

Joanna Wronecka spoke from her office in Beirut about her worries and appealed for restraint from all those involved.

“I’m very concerned,” she said. “Because we need just a small miscalculation and the situation can escalate even more.”

She was referring to the spike in cross-border firing between the Israeli military and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters who’ve been trading attacks with growing intensity since 7 October.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka
Image:
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka

It’s resulted in around 100,000 Lebanese fleeing their homes along the border and around 80,000 being forced to leave their communities on the Israeli side.

We saw a trail of destruction as we joined a UN peacekeepers patrol in south Lebanon.

UNIFIL peacekeepers
Image:
UN peacekeepers on patrol in south Lebanon.


Village after village, town after town have been left like ghost towns, with those homes still standing now emptied of residents. We saw multiple houses and buildings flattened, craters in roads and acres of farmland left burned and unusable.

In Alma Shaab town, a few hardy folk have opted to stay despite the dangers.

“It’s dangerous to stay here,” Nader Eid said. “But we have to. We have to survive and we have to keep our home safe… and to keep Alma safe.”

Read more:
Middle East violence ‘will not stop until Gaza war ends’
Situation in northern Israel ‘untenable’
Are Israel and Lebanon heading for war?

Exchange of fire is regular and often

Walking past crushed buildings which were once people’s homes, Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says the exchange of fire and attacks is regular and often.

“For sure, it’s daily,” he says. “Every day we can count some different kind of activity and in different numbers.”

The UN mission in the country, only weeks ago, marked its 46th anniversary but used it to call for all involved to lay down their weapons and talk peace.

Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio
Image:
Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio

Before the Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October, the border area was judged to have enjoyed a relative period of calm and stability but that all changed with the events across the border.

Since then Hezbollah fighters and Israeli troops have been exchanging more and more serious fire, violating the terms of an earlier agreement contained in the UN Resolution 1701.

That agreement preserved what’s known as the Blue Line – an official demarcation area on disputed territory between Lebanon and Israel. All sides agreed this would be a demilitarised zone with no militia or military engagement in this area.

But Israeli forces continue to strike inside Lebanon at locations they say are being used by Hezbollah to mount attacks inside Israel.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

IDF footage of alleged strikes on Hezbollah

Hezbollah argues they are mounting strikes in support of the Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza, as well as distracting IDF troops on a separate additional front.

There are many suspicions among the Lebanese that the Israeli attacks are an attempt to snatch territory from them.

Whatever the motivations, the daily explosions have fuelled concerns across the region over the potential for the war to escalate hugely, drawing in multiple militias in multiple countries.

‘Lebanon is in a very sensitive place’

Ms Wronecka says: “One mistake, one miscalculation can make a difference and put this region in a completely new situation. And taking Lebanon’s geopolitical position into account, Lebanon is in a very sensitive place.

“So we deploy every day, every moment to speak about responsibility and restraint.”

Lebanon is home to around 250,000 Palestinian refugees, among them an 85-year-old man called Abu Jamal.

He fled to safety in Lebanon more than seven decades ago during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The hugely traumatic event became known as the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) and saw more than half the Palestinian population displaced and dispossessed with many never returning to their homes.

Abu Jamal with his key
Image:
Abu Jamal

‘I pray to see my country… before I die’

Mr Jamal sees many parallels between what’s happening now in Gaza and what he fears may happen in parts of Lebanon too.

He was eight when he left his family home – a day he remembers with searing clarity.

He has a large key which he says was the key to his family’s front door, now part of Israel. He said: “My dad told me that it would be one or two months and we’d go back home – and we’ve been here in Lebanon for 76 years.

“This is the key to our home. I’m still hanging it in my bedroom. I pray to God we return back to our country Palestine. I pray I see my country and our land before I die.”

Reporting with cameraman Jake Britton, specialist producer Chris Cunningham and Lebanon producer Jihad Jineid.

Continue Reading

World

‘Ukraine will not be the second Afghanistan,’ says Zelenskyy after US aid package approval

Published

on

By

'Ukraine will not be the second Afghanistan,' says Zelenskyy after US aid package approval

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the crucial US aid package for Ukraine sends “sends a powerful signal” that his country “will not be the second Afghanistan”.

After months of deadlock, Democrats and Republicans joined together in the US House of Representatives to approve a package – worth $60.8bn (£49bn) – to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Speaking on NBC News show Meet The Press, Mr Zelenskyy said the aid is “a show of leadership from the United States”.

“This aid will strengthen Ukraine and send the Kremlin a powerful signal that it will not be the second Afghanistan,” he said.

“The US will stay with Ukraine, they will protect Ukrainians and democracy.

“Half a year we have been waiting. Now we have reached this important moment and this positive vote.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Moment US approved $60.8bn Ukraine aid

The aid package will now go to the US Senate, where it is expected to be passed on Tuesday.

During the months of delays, some Republicans were critical of the aid proposal and argued America should be focussing on its own southern border instead of European ones.

Asked about the opposition, Mr Zelenskyy said: “The Americans are not funding the war. They, first and foremost, protect freedom and democracy all over Europe.

“Ukraine is fighting, and sending it sons and daughters to the front line. It reduces the price for the whole Europe, NATO and the US.

“The US army does not have to fight to protect NATO countries – Ukrainians are doing that. It’s only the ammo that [aid] is providing.

Read more from Sky News:
What the aid package means for Ukraine
Man arrested over ‘plot to assassinate Zelenskyy’

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

‘We will have a chance for victory’

Addressing how the money will be used, Mr Zelenskyy said he hopes to get “tangible assistance to soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible”.

“We will have a chance for victory if Ukraine really gets the weapons system which we need so much,” he said. “This support will really strengthen the armed forces.”

Ukraine’s priorities are long-range artillery and air defences, Mr Zelenskyy added.

The US House’s decision to approve the aid was praised by UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, who called the funding “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he wrote on X.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

Continue Reading

Trending