Protests erupted across the region in front of US and Israeli embassies after an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza hospital killed hundreds.
Israel’s Western allies voted against Russia’s United Nations Security Counci (UNSC) proposal for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on Monday evening, amid Israel’s intensifying bombing and massacre of Palestinians.
The draft text for the resolution had called for a humanitarian ceasefire, the release of all hostages, aid access and safe evacuation of civilians, the UN said in a statement.
Over 12 days, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have killed more than 3,000 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children. On Tuesday evening, a single Israeli strike killed more than 500 people at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza.
Four countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Japan – voted against the Russian resolution. China, Gabon, Mozambique, and the United Arab Emirates voted in favour, while six states – Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland – abstained.
The UNSC only adopts a resolution if it receives nine votes in favour of it without any opposition or veto from its five permanent members – the US, the UK, Russia, France, and China.
The resolution’s text had called on the members to condemn “all violence and hostility directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism”.
Western powers took issue with the resolution’s wording and pushed for it to include a condemnation of Hamas.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the US, said the decision not to single out Hamas was “outrageous, hypocritical and indefensible.”
“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalises innocent civilians,” the US envoy said.
Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia slammed the “selfish intention of the western bloc” for blocking the resolution with their “purely selfish and political interests”.
“We are extremely concerned by the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the very high risk of the conflict spreading,” he said.
Palestine’s envoy to the UN urged the UNSC to “not send the signals that Palestinian lives do not matter.”
“Do not dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping on their heads,” he said.
‘Blood on their hands’
There has been uproar outside of the UN, with many calling out the Western backing of the “genocide” committed against Gaza’s 2.3 million population.
“The [governments] of the US, UK, Germany, France are all guilty of aiding [and] abetting genocide. More than 500 innocent children [and] families were torn to pieces by Israel’s bombing of the Ahli Anglican / Episcopal Hospital using American war planes [and] munitions. You enabled Israel’s massacres,” Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, former Palestinian official, said in a social media post on Tuesday.
Ashrawi was referring to the shocking massacre at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital that the IOF carried out hours after the UN’s failure to adopt the resolution. The hospital had served as shelter for hundreds of Palestinians who were forcibly displaced from their homes by the Israeli war on Gaza.
The Palestinian Civil Defence officially declared the attack on the hospital in Gaza as the deadliest Israeli air strike in the last five wars since 2008.
“The night before Israel blew up Al Ahli hospital – wiping out 500 men, women and children in one go – the US, UK and France vetoed a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Blood on their hands,” Matt Kennard, chief investigator at Declassified UK, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Protesters across the region took to the streets to demand accountability for the horrifying massacre at the Christian hospital. People were seen protesting in front of the US embassies in their countries, including Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan.
Qatar was among the first countries to condemn the Israeli massacre.
“The State of Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation’s bombing of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, and considers it a brutal massacre, a heinous crime against defenceless civilians, and a blatant violation of the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law,” the Gulf state’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Others have also called out apparent Western hypocrisy with regards to human rights when it comes to Palestinians that have lived under 75 years of occupation.
“In the UN Security Council, France, Japan, UK, and US voted against a resolution asking for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. These four countries claim to be the conscience keepers and human rights protectors of the world. Hypocrisy has no limits,” Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, said.
Israel escaping accountability
Israel has long acted with impunity while entrenching its occupation of Palestine and siege of Gaza. Since the IOF waged the deadly war on Gaza on 7 October, the rhetoric of Western leaders has focused on Israel’s “right to self defence”, despite the catastrophic Palestinian dearth toll.
This was further seen during the harrowing IOF strike on the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, which Israel later claimed was caused by was fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
“An analysis of IDF [Israel’s army] operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a social media post.
The PIJ later rejected the allegations, calling out the “Zionist enemy” for “trying hard to evade its responsibility.”
“The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine,” the PIJ said in a statement.
The Israeli government also spread videos they claimed were of the attack on social media.
A separate investigation by Al-Haq, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, dismissed the Israeli allegations.
“Our FA Investigative Unit geolocated earlier footage of the Israeli attack on the Ahli hospital in Gaza- it shows the front yard of the hospital in flames. The killing of Palestinians in Gaza with intent to destroy the Palestinian people as a group may amount to Genocide,” Al-Haq said in a post on X.
“The Ahli Hospital in Northern Gaza – a hospital which was treating and sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians. Hundreds are feared to be dead. The targeting of hospitals is a war crime,” Al-Haq added.
The targeting of a hospital is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions that stress the protection of the sick and the wounded in times of war.
“Civilian hospitals organised to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict,” Article 18 of the Geneva Conventions says.
Article 19 stresses that “the protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy.”