UN Mario Draghi
UN General Assembly vote comes as Israel expands its ground operations in Gaza Image Credit: Bloomberg

The UN General Assembly adopted on Friday a resolution calling for a “sustained humanitarian truce” and the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza.

The vote on the resolution came as Israel announced an expansion of ground operations in Gaza. The draft proposed by Jordan in the name of 22 Arab countries — including the UAE — was co-sponsored by 47 states and was approved with 121 votes in favour, 14 against and 44 abstained.

Those who voted in favour included Russia, France and China. US voted against the resolution. 

The resolution is not binding but carries significant political weight, taking the global temperature as Israel steps up ground operations in Gaza.

The General Assembly voted after the Security Council failed four times in the past two weeks to take action.

“It sends the message to everyone enough is enough. This war has to stop, the carnage against our people has to stop and humanitarian assistance should begin to enter the Gaza Strip,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the UAE Mission to the UN noted that the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution co-sponsored by the UAE and submitted by the Arab Group on the war in Gaza, protecting civilians, and adhering to legal and humanitarian obligations.

"The resolution adopted today calls for an immediate, permanent, and sustainable humanitarian truce, leading to the cessation of hostilities and the immediate and unimpeded provision of basic goods and services to civilians throughout Gaza," it said. 

A Canadian-led bid to amend the resolution to include a rejection and condemnation of the “terrorist attacks by Hamas and the taking of hostages” failed to get the two thirds majority needed.

The UN General Assembly called on Israel to rescind its order for civilians in Gaza to move to the south of the enclave.

Israel ordered some 1.1 million people in Gaza — almost half the population — to move south on Oct. 12.

The General Assembly also “firmly rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population.”

UNGA called for “the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive.” It did not name Hamas anywhere in the text.

Explosions caused by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip
Explosions caused by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, on Friday, October 27, 2023. Image Credit: AP

US defence secretary underscored protection of civilians

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant “underscored the importance of protecting civilians” during operations in Gaza, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Protesters shut New York’s Grand Central, seeking Gaza ceasefire

Hundreds of protesters demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas forced the closure on Friday of Grand Central Terminal, one of New York City’s major transit hubs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

“Grand Central Terminal is closed until further notice due to a protest,” the MTA said on its website, urging commuters to use alternate stations and plan for extra travel time.

“Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living,” read one banner raised inside the building.

Images on social media showed protesters pouring out of the train station and onto 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, and a large crowd being detained by law enforcement.

The group Jewish Voice for Peace, which organised the demonstration, posted a video on Instagram showing police in the station escorting a long line of protesters, who were wearing shirts reading “Cease Fire Now” and “Not In Our Name” with their arms secured behind their backs.

An explosion is seen on the Israel-Gaza border
An explosion is seen on the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, as seen from the Israeli side, on October 27, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

Gaza information blackout ‘risks providing cover for mass atrocities’: Human Rights Watch

The near-total telecommunications blackout in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the Palestinian territory risks providing cover for mass atrocities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

Internet access and the phone network were completely cut across the Gaza Strip on Friday, nearly three weeks after Israel began bombarding the enclave following an armed attack by Hamas militants that Israeli officials say killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

The health ministry in Gaza says at least 7,326 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory strikes since the Oct. 7 attack, mainly civilians and many of them children.

“This information blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations,” Deborah Brown, the group’s senior technology and human rights researcher, said in the statement.

In this undated image taken from video released by Israeli Defense Forces, a line of Israeli tanks are shown during an incursion into the Gaza Strip.
In this undated image taken from video released by Israeli Defense Forces, a line of Israeli tanks are shown during an incursion into the Gaza Strip. Image Credit: AP

Zero communication: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has said it had lost all contact with its staff in Gaza.

“This communications blackout means that it will be even more difficult to obtain critical information and evidence about human rights violations and war crimes being committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” the rights body added.

(With inputs from agencies)