An extraordinary UN bid to call for a ceasefire in Gaza was blocked by the United States on December 8 while Israeli forces continued a relentless offensive to destroy Hamas after its deadly attack two months ago.
Washington wielding its veto dashes a growing clamour for an immediate ceasefire that had been led by UN Chief Antonio Guterres and Arab nations.
Mr. Guterres had convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after weeks of fighting left more than 17,487 people dead in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.
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“The United Arab Emirates is deeply disappointed,” said the representative of the UAE who had sponsored the resolution calling for a ceasefire.
“Regrettably... this council is unable to demand a humanitarian ceasefire.”
Washington defended its veto, and attacked the resolution’s sponsors, criticizing them for rushing it through and leaving the call for an unconditional ceasefire unchanged.
As a permanent Security Council member, Washington can veto any resolution, while Britain, also a member, abstained on the vote.
Ahead of the vote, Mr. Guterres had said that “the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
The fighting has left 17,487 people dead in the Palestinian territory, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll from the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas over its unprecedented attack on October 7 when militants broke through Gaza's militarised border to kill around 1,200 people and seize hostages, 138 of whom remain captive, according to Israeli figures.
Vast areas of Gaza have been reduced to a wasteland. The UN says about 80% of the population has been displaced, facing dire shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine, and the growing threat of disease.
Its deputy representative at the UN, Robert Wood, said it was "divorced from reality" and "would have not moved the needle forward on the ground".
That was in spite of warnings from the World Health Organization that civilisation was collapsing in Gaza.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the Security Council was "complicit in the ongoing slaughter".