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Sabra Express | UNreal

Times of Israel, November 6th, 2023


Recap:

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged for an immediate ceasefire saying Gaza has become a “graveyard for children,” and blamed both Israel and Hamas for a “crisis of humanity [1].” Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, called for Guterres’s resignation saying, “any UN representative who makes the false moral comparison between a brutal terrorist organization and a law-abiding democracy, proves himself to have rotten morals.”


The Context:

· Israel is striking Gaza to destroy Hamas after the terror organization massacred over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in Southern Israel. Hamas continues to rain rockets on Israel and has displaced over 200,000 people. According to Hamas, 10,222 people have died in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children, since the start of the war but the unverified figures do not differentiate between terrorists and civilians nor between those killed in Israeli strikes and those killed by Hamas rockets that have fallen short.

· Israel closed its commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom and its pedestrian one at Erez, until Hamas releases the, at least, 240 hostages held in Gaza. Just over 400 trucks have entered Gaza since the start of the war – compared with 500 a day prior. Israel refuses to allow fuel into Gaza fearing that Hamas will divert it for military needs. Gazans depend on fuel to generate electricity and purify water [2].

· Guterres outraged Israel at a Security Council meeting last month where he alleged violations of humanitarian law and said that the Hamas attacks “did not occur in a vacuum.” The heads of several major UN bodies called for a humanitarian ceasefire saying that while the slaughter of more than 1,400 people in Israel was "horrific,” the “killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage [3].” Erdan criticized the UN for not calling on Hamas to surrender and demanding the release of those held in Gaza.

· Israel was established just a few years after the UN and has long been a lightning rod at the international body. It is often the target of indignation from other countries, especially Muslim-majority ones [4]. In 2022, 15 resolutions were passed against Israel, whereas a combined 13 resolutions were passed against all other countries in the world including North Korea, Russia, Iran, and Myanmar. Last week, Iran's envoy was selected to chair a UN human rights council meeting in Geneva [5].


Conversation Points:

· Why is Israel held to a double standard at the UN?

· Is the United Nations a useful forum for solving problems or just one to air grievances?

· Does Guterres’s comments attempt to whitewash Hamas’s actions?

· What does the UN’s resolution record say about the institution’s bias?


Notes:

1. UN's Guterres: Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, NOVEMBER 7, 2023

2. Ibid.

4. The UN is in disarray over the Israel-Hamas war, Politico, November 4th, 2023.

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