Today, on Wednesday 18 October 2023, the United Nations (UN) Security Council—which is a committee charged with ensuring international peace—will meet to vote on a Brazilian-drafted resolution that calls for humanitarian pauses in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip.
On 17 October, the council rejected Russia’s resolution, which condemned the violence towards civilians but failed to mention Hamas’ involvement. Only four countries endorsed Russia’s motion: China, the United Arab Emirates, Gabon, and Mozambique.
Brazil’s resolution, which has garnered greater public support, “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas.” While the exact death toll, following both Hamas’ initial attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent torrent of air strikes on Gaza, is unknown, some sources have estimated that there have been approximately 1,400 deaths in Israel and 3,000 in Palestine.
One of the UN’s top priorities will undoubtedly be the horrific bombing of a hospital in Gaza City that occurred on 17 October and resulted in the deaths of at least 500 people. According to Sky News, the bombing—which will further deteriorate the already overwhelmed and overcrowded hospital services in Palestine—has been used as yet another political football, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stating that the explosion was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket that was aimed at Israel.
The military’s official statement read: “Following an additional review and cross-examination of the operational and intelligence systems, it is clear that the IDF did not strike the hospital in Gaza. The hospital was hit as a result of a failed rocket launched by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation.”
Hamas, on the other hand, has released a countering statement, claiming that the IDF are indeed responsible for the bombing: “The horrific massacre carried out by the Zionist occupation in the Gaza City’s al Ahli hospital which left hundreds of casualties, most of them displaced families, patients, children and women, is a crime of genocide that once again reveals the ugly face of this criminal enemy and its fascist and terrorist government. This also exposes the American and Western support for this criminal occupation.”
The civilian impact of this conflict is unprecedented, with many families experiencing great loss and displacement from their homes. Moreover, Palestine is facing a mounting humanitarian crisis, with a catastrophic shortage of medical supplies, all further exacerbated by the Israeli government’s decision to cut off water, power, and fuel supplies.
Another likely topic of conversation during the Security Council meeting will be the alarming global increase in both Islamophobia and anti-semitism amid the ongoing conflict. In Illinois, a six-year-old boy was murdered in a vicious hate crime attack. Wadea Al-Fayoume, the young boy, and his mother were attacked in their home by their 71-year-old landlord Joseph Czuba who, after entering the apartment, yelled “You Muslims must die,” as reported by The Guardian.
Following this, top officials at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have warned of a potential rise in violence against Muslims and Palestinians in the US.
In the UK, a number of Jewish schools have closed in order to ensure the safety of their students. The BBC has reported that two particular schools in North London have been targeted, with two masked figures having been spotted spraying red paint over the doors of the schools. The police have increased surveillance in the area.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently released a statement emphasising his commitment to protecting the Jewish community following a slew of anti-semitic attacks: “There is no place for hatred, anti-semitism, or incitement in London.”
US President Joe Biden has also made a number of new statements regarding the ongoing conflict—some of which have rightfully been deemed extremely controversial. Having touched down in Israel and meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the President stated that the US would provide Israel with everything it needed to defend itself.
This statement has sparked debate and criticism, as the conflict in the region is a deeply contentious issue and differing viewpoints exist regarding the level of US involvement and support for either side.
Biden also made his stance quite clear by reiterating the IDF’s comments regarding the Gaza City hospital attack: “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you. But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”