NEW YORK CITY: The permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the UN on Wednesday expressed disbelief that “some still speak of the right to self-defense of a power that seeks the forced transfer and annihilation” of Palestinians.
Riyad Mansour was speaking during a Security Council meeting to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. It followed a vote in which the US vetoed a draft resolution that called for “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict and condemned the attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7. As justification for the decision, America’s envoy cited the failure of the resolution to mention “Israel’s right to self-defense.”
The meeting took place amid the biggest escalation in the war since it began, a day after an attack on Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday that killed hundreds of patients and civilians who had been asked to shelter in the hospital. Israel accuses the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad of carrying out the attack.
“Had this council called for a ceasefire two days ago, it would have saved hundreds of lives,” Mansour told council members, referring to a previous draft resolution proposed by Russia on Monday. It had also called for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds but was similarly voted down by the council. Those members who voted against it cited as their reason its failure to mention Hamas.
“Stop the bloodshed. I repeat, stop the bloodshed,” Mansour told the council, adding that “killing Palestinians will never, never make Israel more secure.”
He urged members to “heed the call of the UN secretary-general, of religious leaders around the world, the Pope, the Arab states, Muslim countries of the global south, billions of people around the world, including millions who marched in your streets. Listen to them and stop the bloodshed. Stop it now.”
Speaking on behalf of Gulf Cooperation Council member states, Omani envoy Mohammed Al-Hassan told the Security Council that its failure to stand united has resulted only in more bloodshed.
“For decades, this council has been unable to find a lasting, fair solution to the question of Palestine on the basis of the international law, including resolutions adopted by the council itself. The result is victims on both sides and full lack of security,” he said
He added that “double standards have led Israel to defy this council and its resolutions. Countless times, (Israel) has committed massacres against Palestinians.”
The massacre at Al-Ahli Hospital is a “dangerous escalation, and a violation of international law and international humanitarian law,” Al-Hassan said.
“Israel (is) tearing Palestinian civilians to pieces before the eyes of the world. Isn’t this a terrorist act and a flagrant violation of international law?” he asked the ambassadors.
“Israeli criminal acts, from causing famine to collective punishment, were practiced by Nazis in World War II and have no place in today’s world.”
He called for the council to uphold international law and added: “Prove to us that no one is above the law, even if it’s Israel.”
Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group at the UN, Jordanian envoy Mahmoud Hmoud said Arab countries condemn “in the strongest terms the massacre by the criminal IDF (Israel Defense Forces) of innocent civilians who were receiving care” in Al-Ahli Hospital. Israel is solely responsible for “this heinous war crime,” he added.
Hmoud, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the Arab Group, urged the Security Council to take “immediate action for an immediate ceasefire and end Israeli aggression on Gaza.”
He said the Israeli occupation is the reason that lies behind this conflict, and called for an independent Palestinian state to be established based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, “if we want peace and security.”
Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN, Osama Abdelkhalek, described the attack on Al-Ahli Hospital as an “attempt to uproot Palestinian people and drive them away from their territority.”
He added: “This war did not begin on Oct. 8 but much earlier than that. It began when occupation began.”
He warned that “occupation cannot go on. Israel’s crimes cannot be overlooked.”
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, asked council members: “What is going on here? The most barbaric terrorist attacks in decades, bigger than 9/11, happened 10 days ago and it seems this council has already forgotten it, and I must remind some of you what happened.
“Hamas killed Holocaust survivors who escaped Nazis only to be killed in their living room.”
Dismissing calls for a two-state solution, he said the only solution for “curing a cancer is the evisceration of every cancerous cell, just as it was done with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.” ISIS is an alternative name for the terrorist group Daesh.
Erdan condemned the Security Council for not having done “the most basic thing,” adding: “You have not condemned, as a council, Hamas’ brutal terror attacks. It is unfathomable that you cannot unite even on that basic thing.”
He also accused council members of playing “the exact role that Hamas has written for you in their script of death and terror.”
He added: “Where was the UN when Hamas exploited billions of dollars in international aid to embed terror infrastructure within and below densely populated residential areas? Where were you? The UN knew all of this but remained silent.”
Erdan said it is “ludicrous” that the council is discussing humanitarian corridors instead of condemning Hamas atrocities.
“Calling for calm restraint and a ceasefire is like putting a band aid on a bullet wound,” he added.
Regarding the attack on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on Tuesday, Erdan accused the Security Council, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, of taking claims made by “baby-killing terrorists at face value, without a second thought.”
The hospital was hit by, “and only by,” a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket, he added, and Israel has footage to prove this “beyond any doubt.”