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UN condemns Israeli Gaza action

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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution last night condemning Israel for “excessive use of force” against Palestinians on the Gaza border.

The resolution passed with 120 countries in favour, eight against, and 45 abstaining. It was proposed by Algeria, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The resolution is largely symbolic as any attempt to enforce the resolution at the UN Security Council (UNSC) will likely be vetoed by the US. Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Togo joined Israel and the US in voting against the resolution.

A US amendment to the UNGA resolution that included strong condemnation of Hamas for inciting violence on the Gaza was supported by 62 countries, but failed to receive the two-third majority support needed for adoption. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the failure to adopt the amendment “feeds a narrative to the desperate people of Gaza that their leaders are not responsible for their predicament” and is unhelpful for promoting peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the resolution “draws attention away from so many other pressing issues that demand the attention of the international community” and that Hamas is responsible for the dire humanitarian situation and for the loss of life that has occurred as a result of the violent riots it has instigated over the last few weeks.

Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to protect its border whilst seeking ways to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza: “Israel welcomes all efforts that would improve conditions for the people of Gaza while preventing Hamas from building its military capabilities to launch further attacks against Israel and demanding the prompt return of the Israeli soldiers and civilians Hamas is holding.”

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published on Wednesday concluded that the Israeli military’s use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip against “Palestinian demonstrators who pose no imminent threat to Israeli troops may amount to war crimes”. Israel disputes the claim that the majority of those killed were unarmed and argues that Hamas deliberately sent activists to engage in violent activity at the border.