Israel carried out new deadly air raids on the Gaza Strip early Jan. 9, even as the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable” ceasefire leading to the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza. The text, while stopping short of demanding that Israel call off the offensive before a ceasefire is implemented, does call for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment.” The US abstained but refrained from vetoing the resolution. The vote was otherwise a unanimous 14-0. The death toll in the offensive now stands at 778.
Aid deliveries suspended
The resolution came hours after the UN suspended food deliveries to Gaza and the Red Cross accused Israel of blocking medical assistance after its forces fired on aid workers. UNRWA said a UN convoy was hit by two Israeli tank shells, killing a truck driver.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington “fully supports” the resolution but abstained “to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation” with Israel and Hamas.
Israel’s security cabinet met to discuss its response to the resolution. “Israel is acting and will act only according to its interests and the security of its citizens and its right to self-defense,” an official quoted Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as saying.
Air raids continue—despite UN resolution
Israel’s air force attacked more than 50 targets overnight, the military said. Palestinian medics said at least 12 people were killed in the overnight air-strikes. Around 20 people were also killed in Israeli strikes Jan. 8, including a Ukrainian and a Moroccan woman, both married to Palestinians.
As the Israeli cabinet met, the independent Palestinian Ma’an News Agency counted 21 killed in Gaza since the UN resolution was passed. Six Palestinians were killed by an Israeli tank shelling that leveled their home in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Strip. Later in the morning, two women were killed by an air-strike in Jabaliya
Eleven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed since the start of the offensive on Dec. 27. (Four of those, including one of the soldiers, were killed in Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli territory.)
Police flood East Jerusalem; West Bank locked down
Thousands of Israeli police were deployed in East Jerusalem Jan. 9 in response to a Hamas call for another “day of wrath” over the Gaza offensive. Access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound was restricted to men over 50, with no restrictions for women.
The Israeli army also instated a 48-hour lock-down of the West Bank for the second time since the beginning of the Gaza offensive, with movement in and out of the territory prohibited except for emergencies and special cases. (Middle East Online, AP, Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 9)
See our last post on Gaza.