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UN Security Council passes Gaza ceasefire resolution

After four failed attempts, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on 10 March and will end around 9 April. 

The resolution also calls for the immediate release of the estimated 134 hostages still held by Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza who were taken during Hamas’ 7 October attacks on Israel. The US – after vetoing three previous resolutions and seeing its own resolution vetoed by Russia and China on 22 March – abstained from the vote. It remains unclear whether the resolution will result in a ceasefire, and for how long. 

Following nearly six months of Israeli military action and siege, the entire population of Gaza (some 2.3 million people) is living in a dire humanitarian situation. More than 32,000 Palestinian – including over 13,000 children – have been killed, according to health officials in the enclave. Another 7,000 people are believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings. With 1.1 million people facing an imminent famine, deaths from starvation and disease will likely continue for some time, even if there is a pause in hostilities and the amount of aid reaching the population increases significantly. 

Further complicating matters, the head of UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, said that Israeli authorities will no longer approve food aid deliveries by the agency to northern Gaza, where people have been eating grass to try to survive. UNRWA is by far the largest aid provider in Gaza. Following Israeli accusations that some of its staff were involved in the 7 October attacks on Israel, several major donors froze their funding, precipitating a major crisis for the agency. For more, read: Why Israel wants to end UNRWA and what its closure would mean

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