UPDATING LIVE: Crisis in the Middle East

The UN Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The UN Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
  • UN News

11:05 AM

The Security Council has just been called to order. The meeting was called by new member Algeria, to discuss the ICJ's provisional ruling on Gaza in the case brought by South Africa, against Israel. Both Israel and Palestine are due to speak, alongside the 15 Council members.

10:51 AM

ICJ ruling offers hope for protection of Gazan civilians enduring ‘apocalyptic conditions’: Rights experts

The landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) offers the first concrete hope to protect civilians in Gaza enduring apocalyptic humanitarian conditions, destruction, mass killing, wounding and irreparable trauma, UN experts said on Wednesday.

“The court order is urgently needed to protect the very existence of the Palestinian people from potentially genocidal actions the court has ordered Israel to halt and prevent,” the experts said.

Last Friday, the world court found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and issued six provisional measures, ordering Israel to, among other things, prevent and punish incitement to genocide, ensure aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza and preserve evidence of crimes committed. The decision came after South Africa filed a case against Israel in late December.

“We echo the sense of urgency demonstrated by the Court in its short, two-week deliberation, as hundreds of Palestinians are being killed by Israeli forces every day,” the experts said. “The ruling is a significant milestone in the decades-long struggle for justice by the Palestinian people.”

More than 26,000 people have been killed in Gaza – more than one per cent of the enclave’s population – since Israel responded to Hamas attacks on 7 October.

The experts who issued the statement are all UN Special Rapporteurs appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, located in Geneva. They are not UN staff and are not paid for their work.

10:07 AM

'Scar on our shared humanity': Guterres

Secretary-General António Guterres is addressing the Committee, he started by underlining the importance of its mandate amidst the unresolved issue of Palestinian statelessness and the enormous violence and suffering, especially since the horrific 7 October terror attack.

Secretary-General António Guterres delivers remarks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
UN Photo

The death, destruction, displacement, hunger, loss, and grief in Gaza over the last 120 days are a scar on our shared humanity and conscience,” he said condemning the attacks by Hamas and other groups.

“The ongoing conflict and relentless bombardment by Israeli forces across Gaza have resulted in killings of civilians and destruction at a pace and scale unlike anything we have witnessed in recent years,” he added.

UNRWA: 'Backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza'

Mr. Guterres emphasized that the UN acted immediately following the extremely serious allegations implicating UNRWA staffers in the attacks on 7 October.

“I was personally horrified by these accusations,” he said, noting that on Tuesday, he met with donors to listen to their concerns and to outline the steps the Organization is taking to address them.

He reiterated the importance of keeping UNRWA’s vital work going to meet the dire needs of civilians in Gaza, and to ensure its continuity of services to Palestine refugees in the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“UNRWA is the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza. "I appeal to all Member States to guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s life-saving work,” he urged.

With over 26,000 reportedly killed in the enclave, 1.7 million displaced and massive destruction of civilian infrastructure, including homes and schools, the UN chief underscored the need for all combatants to comply with international law.

ICJ decision 'must be complied with'

“International humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack, must be upheld at all times,” he said.

“And the binding decisions of the International Court of Justice must be complied with,” he stressed.

10:04 AM

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a body of the General Assembly is meeting for its 2024 session. The Committee unanimously elected Ambassador Cheikh Niang (Senegal) as the Chair. The Vice Chair and Rapporteurs will be elected at a later time.

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, will brief the Security Council in the meeting starting at 11:00 AM New York time while Secretary-General António Guterres is due to brief the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which is convening elsewhere in the building.

Later in the day, we expect more details on the UN chief’s meeting Tuesday night with more than 30 donor countries to the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, some of whom have suspended funding pending the investigation into alleged collusion by a dozen UNRWA workers in the 7 October terror attacks.

The UN''s top humanitarian officials and chiefs of leading NGOs warned overnight of the "catastrophic consequences of defunding UNRWA in even the short-term.

“Withdrawing funds from UNRWAwould result in the collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, with far-reaching humanitarian and human rights consequences in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and across the region,” warned the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), headed by relief chief Griffiths.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless and “on the brink of famine”, they said, since Israeli bombardment and a ground invasion began after Palestinian militants massacred some 1,200 people in Israeli communities and took more than 250 others hostage on 7 October.

Long road to reconstruction

The UN trade and development body, UNCTAD, is also due to publish its latest report into the devastating impact of war on the society and economy of Gaza since the fighting began. They’ll be outlining how reconstruction can begin when the fighting finally stops. That’s due to be released around 12:00 PM.

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