Israel-Gaza war live: UN security council in ‘intense’ ceasefire debate as vote delayed again; Qatar says separate talks ‘positive’ | Israel-Gaza war


UN security council delays Gaza vote again

The UN security council vote on a resolution calling for a new ceasefire in Gaza has been delayed once again. The vote has now been pushed to Wednesday.

We reported earlier that security council members were engaged in “intense negotiations” on Tuesday afternoon to try to get to a vote on a draft resolution.

The vote, initially scheduled for Monday afternoon, had been expected to take place in New York by early Tuesday afternoon, but diplomats said it was pushed back until later in the day at the request of the US, which vetoed the last one.

Under discussion is the language of the resolution sponsored by the United Arab Emirates. Its first draft called for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities,” but on Tuesday new language circulated calling “for the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

Key events

The Israeli military has attacked a military structure of the Hezbollah militant group after intercepting six rockets launched from Lebanon, the military said.

Minutes after the launches, an Israeli air force aircraft “attacked the launcher and the terrorist squad” that carried out a shooting in Lebanese territory, according to Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari.

בהמשך להתרעה במרחב יפתח, לוחמי ההגנה האווירית יירטו בהצלחה שישה שיגורים משטח לבנון. דקות ספורות לאחר מכן, כלי טיס של חיל האוויר תקף בשטח לבנון את המשגר ואת חוליית המחבלים שביצעה את הירי >> pic.twitter.com/65avA0E4Oa

— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 19, 2023

Two IDF reserve soldiers were “moderately injured” as a result of the shooting at an IDF post in the Malkia area on the border, Hagari said on X (formerly Twitter).

The fighters were evacuated to receive medical treatment at a hospital, their families were informed.

Here’s more on the video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group’s armed wing appearing to show two male Israeli hostages in Gaza pleading for their release.

The two men identified were shown in the short video asking for efforts to be intensified so they could reunite with their families, Reuters reports.

“We are dying every moment. We are in an unbearable situation,” one of the men said, looking at the camera against a plain background.

The two men were both unshaven and appeared to have lost weight.

One of them is a farmer aged about 79 who was captured from a kibbutz on 7 October during Hamas’s deadly rampage in southern Israel. The other, 47, was also taken from a kibbutz along with his mother, who was later released. His father was killed, according to media reports.

On Monday, Hamas released a short video showing three elderly Israeli hostages the militant group seized during its attack, when it took about 240 people hostage. Israel denounced it as a “criminal, terrorist video”.

Embattled Red Cross insists it remains neutral

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has insisted on the organisation’s neutrality and said criticism was making it increasingly hard to operate in the Israel-Gaza war.

Agence France-Presse reports that the Swiss-based organisation, founded 160 years ago to serve as a neutral intermediary between belligerents in conflict and to visit and assist prisoners of war, has been accused by both sides in the conflict of not providing adequate help to those being held hostage.

ICRC chief Mirjana Spoljaric Egger told journalists at a Geneva roundtable event:

The pressure we experience now in the context of Gaza and Israel is so much more than what we experienced a year ago on Ukraine and Russia.

But she said that abandoning neutrality and “adopting a practice of public denunciations is going to make us irrelevant”.

Mirjana Spoljaric Egger
ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Spoljaric spoke after returning from a visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank last week, following a visit to Gaza in early December.

She met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who asked her to “place public pressure on Hamas” in a video of the meeting published on X (formerly Twitter).

“Public denouncements are not a tool that has proven effective,” Spoljaric said, adding that “it exposes us to a lot of criticism all the time”.

After last month’s exchange of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinian prisoners as part of a truce deal, several dozen captives were transported in ICRC vehicles.

But instead of being hailed for its role in bringing out many of the freed hostages, the ICRC has been slammed on social media as a “glorified taxi service” or “Uber”.

Spoljaric called the comparisons “unacceptable and outrageous”.

Summary of the day so far

It’s 1am in Gaza City and Tel Aviv. Here’s a recap of the latest developments:

  • Israeli forces have bombed a home in southern Gaza, killing 25 people, as Palestinian casualties in Gaza climbed towards 20,000. At least 13 Palestinians were killed and 75 others wounded in an Israeli strike on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, a spokesperson for the territory’s health ministry said on Tuesday. The death toll from airstrikes and grim conditions for nearly 2 million people displaced from their homes with little access to food, clean water or sanitation is fuelling growing international anger. In addition to longstanding concerns about the humanitarian catastrophe inside Gaza, there has been a growing international focus on Israel’s rules of engagement.

  • A UN security council vote on a resolution calling for a new ceasefire in Gaza was postponed again as diplomats engaged in “intense negotiations” to meet US objections to the wording of the draft resolution. The vote, initially scheduled for Monday afternoon, is now scheduled for Wednesday. Under discussion is the language of the resolution – its first draft called for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities,” but on Tuesday new language circulated calling “for the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

  • Ismail Haniyeh, the most senior political leader of Hamas, is set to travel to Egypt for talks on a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange with Israel, according to reports. Haniyeh will reportedly head a “high-level” Hamas delegation to Cairo on Wednesday, where he will hold talks with Egypt’s intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, and others. Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official said on Tuesday that Hamas rejected holding negotiations over exchanging prisoners during the war, but it was open to any initiative to end the “continuing Israeli genocidal war”.

  • Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, has signalled readiness on the part of the country to enter into another foreign-mediated Gaza truce to recover hostages held by Hamas and enable more aid to reach the besieged Palestinian enclave. Meanwhile, a Qatari official described talks between Qatar’s prime minister and the heads of the CIA and Mossad spy agency on Monday as “positive” but said no imminent deal was expected.

Israel says it is ready for humanitarian pause as strikes continue across Gaza – video

  • Israeli forces raided one of the last remaining hospitals in northern Gaza, putting it out of action, according to the hospital’s director. The overnight raid at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City led to the arrest of doctors, medical staff and patients, according to reports. The hospital was also reportedly damaged as a result of the assault. Israeli forces have taken control of al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza after surrounding the facility for 12 days, according to the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). It said males over the age of 16 were taken out of the hospital, stripped, bound and interrogated – among them were six MSF staff. The hospital still has dozens of patients inside, including 14 children, it said.

  • Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, said the Israeli ground operation would “expand to additional areas” of the Gaza Strip. It is thought that he was referring to the central Gaza Strip or the southern city of Rafah.

  • The Israeli army has said it is investigating the deaths of Palestinian detainees who were arrested in military operations across the Gaza Strip. At least six Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons or Israel Defense Forces (IDF) detention facilities since the start of the war, according to a report, including “several” held at the Sde Teiman base near the city of Be’er Sheva, in southern Israel. Meanwhile, the IDF said it had suspended a group of Israeli soldiers recorded smoking a water pipe and joking in front of Palestinians who were detained and blindfolded in the occupied West Bank.

  • The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has released a video that it claimed showed two hostages who were taken to Gaza during the 7 October attacks on Israel. The video posted by the al-Quds Brigades comes a day after Hamas’s military wing released video footage it claimed showed three elderly Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

  • Benjamin Nentanyahu has met with some families of the hostages held captive in Gaza. About 15 family members of hostages were expected to attend the meeting, where the Israeli prime minister was joined by his wife and Israel’s coordinator for hostages and missing persons, Gal Hirsch. Netanyahu “reiterated his commitment to bring about the release of all the hostages to their homes,” his office said in a statement after the meeting.

  • UN officials have expressed anger and disbelief about the situation in Gaza hospitals, where injured people do not have basic supplies and children recovering from amputations are being killed in the conflict. “I’m furious that children who are recovering from amputations in hospitals are then killed in those hospitals,” said James Elder, a spokesperson for the UN children’s agency. He added that the Nasser hospital, the largest operational hospital left in the territory, had been shelled twice in the past 48 hours.

  • The US has announced the creation of an enhanced naval protection force operating in the southern Red Sea in an attempt to ward off mounting attacks from Yemen’s rebel Houthis on merchant shipping. Britain said it would be among the countries participating but notable absentees were Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Houthis said on Tuesday they would press on with attacks in the Red Sea and could mount a naval operation there roughly every 12 hours. The group has stepped up the missile and drone attacks it began last month against international vessels in response to Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

  • The UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, told MPs at a liaison committee that too many civilians were dying in Gaza but rebuffed questions on whether Israel had violated international humanitarian law or whether it was responsible for the death toll. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran made an impassioned plea in the Commons for the government to back an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as she told of the desperate plight of relatives who had taken refuge in a church there.

The head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has deplored the conflict in Gaza as a “moral failure” of the international community.

Mirjana Spoljaric, speaking to journalists in Geneva on Tuesday, urged Israel and Hamas to reach a new deal to halt the fighting. She said:

I have been speaking of moral failure because every day this continues is a day more where the international community hasn’t proven capable of ending such high levels of suffering. This will have an impact on generations not only in Gaza.

The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has said his country was ready for a humanitarian pause amid growing international pressure to stop fighting in Gaza and a sharply deteriorating humanitarian emergency across the territory.

Herzog told a gathering of ambassadors on Tuesday:

Israel is ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid, in order to enable the release of hostages’

His comments came as Israel continued its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, striking targets in the Jabalia refugee camp and the southern Rafah district. Gaza health officials estimate at least 100 people were killed in the strike.

Here’s our video report:

Israel says it is ready for humanitarian pause as strikes continue across Gaza – video

We reported earlier that Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with some of the families of hostages at the Kirya military complex in Tel Aviv today.

The Israeli prime minister, who attended the meeting with his wife, Sara, “reiterated his commitment to bring about the release of all the hostages to their homes,” his office said in a statement after the meeting. The statement said:

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife listened very attentively to the hardship and pain of the hostages’ families.

The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Quds Brigades, has released a video that it claimed showed two hostages who were taken to Gaza during the 7 October attacks on Israel.

The video, which was published on the group’s Telegram account, shows the two male Israeli hostages pleading for their release.

It comes a day after Hamas’s military wing released footage it claimed showed three Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Israeli officials are considering building a “humanitarian compound” in northern Gaza to house displaced Palestinian civilians, according to a report.

The establishment of such a compound would allow some Palestinians to move to northern Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) completes its current phase of military operations there, multiple sources told CNN.

The planning for the compound is in its early stages and Israel has informed the US that it is exploring the project, the outlet reported.

Nearly 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced by the war, and many of those displaced from northern Gaza will have no home to return to. About 80% of buildings in that part of the territory had been damaged or destroyed by the end of November, according to UN analysis.

Hamas leader to visit Egypt for Gaza ceasefire talks – report

Ismail Haniyeh, the most senior political leader of Hamas, is set to travel to Egypt tomorrow for talks on a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange with Israel, according to reports.

Haniyeh will head a “high-level” Hamas delegation to Cairo on Wednesday, where he will hold talks with Egypt’s intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, and others, a source told AFP. The BBC has also been told of the visit.

The discussions will be “on stopping the aggression and the war to prepare an agreement for the release of prisoners (and) the end of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the source said.

The talks will focus on “the delivery of humanitarian aid, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and the return of displaced persons to their towns and villages in the north”, the source said.

Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh pictured in Istanbul on 22 September 2023.
Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh pictured in Istanbul on 22 September 2023. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The visit would mark Haniyeh’s second trip to Egypt since the start of the war on 7 October, following a trip in early November.

It comes after Qatar’s prime minister held talks with the heads of the CIA and Mossad spy agency on Monday. A Qatari official described the talks as “positive” but said no deal is imminent.

Faisal Ali

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid spoke with Al Majalla, one of the Arab world’s leading magazines in which he said a two-state solution still isn’t dead.

Lapid told Al Majalla that while the idea of a two-state solution faces new obstacles because of the 7 October attacks on Israel, he doesn’t believe the idea is dead. “I think it will be significantly delayed because we need to find ways to ensure the safety of our people,” the Yesh Atid party chair said. He added:

Those of us who support the establishment of a Palestinian state always emphasised the importance of implementing the security measures necessary for Israel to safeguard our people.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks at a gathering of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in Tel Aviv.
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks at a gathering of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images

Lapid said that Palestinians “want to live with dignity and be respected as people who can govern themselves.” He said he believed politicians today have a responsibility not to pass on the conflict to the next generation of children across the Palestine and Israel. “I am telling you this not just as a political leader but also as a parent”, he said.

When asked about the implications of a peace agreement for the near 700,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Lapid responded that the specifics would be discussed at the appropriate time.

I didn’t want to be too specific because everyone understands that compromises are crucial to any peace agreement. But you don’t delve into the details until you have to.

Here are some of the latest images we have received over the newswires from Gaza.

Search and rescue operations for the people in a building that has been attacked by Israeli forces in Deir al-Balah, Gaza.
Search and rescue operations for the people in a building that has been attacked by Israeli forces in Deir al-Balah, Gaza. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images
Search and rescue operations for the people in a building that has been attacked by Israeli forces in Deir al-Balah, Gaza.
Search and rescue operations for the people in a building that has been attacked by Israeli forces in Deir al-Balah, Gaza. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images
A Palestinian injured in Israeli airstrikes arrives for treatment at Nasser Medical Hospital in Khan Yunis.
A Palestinian injured in Israeli airstrikes arrives for treatment at Nasser Medical hospital in Khan Yunis. Photograph: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images
Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for medical treatment following Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah.
Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital for medical treatment following Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images





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