Thursday, April 25

Israel-Hamas war and news from Lebanon: latest updates

Although the United Nations Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, it remains to be seen whether it will have a concrete effect on the war or whether it will simply be ‘a political statement.

The measure, Resolution 2728, followed three previous attempts that the United States had blocked. It passed by 14 votes, after the United States abstained from voting and did not use its veto.

The resolution also calls for the unconditional release of all hostages and an end to obstacles to humanitarian assistance.

The Israeli government condemned the vote, and early indications are that the U.N. action has changed little on the ground or spurred diplomatic progress.

A few days after the vote, here’s a look at what’s changed and what could happen next:

Did the resolution affect combat?

Senior Israeli officials said they would ignore the call for a ceasefire, arguing that it was imperative to continue the war until it dismantled the military wing of Hamas, the militant group that led the October 7 attack on Israel.

Since Monday, there has been no apparent change in the military campaign. The Israeli Air Force continues to bombard Gaza with strikes, and Hamas continues to launch attacks.

The Israeli army continues its raid on Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, the largest medical facility in the territory, as well as its offensive in Khan Younis, the largest city in the south, where fighting has been fierce .

An explosion during strikes in Rafah Tuesday evening.Credit…Saïd Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If Israel does not respect the resolution, what can the UN do?

The Security Council has few means to enforce its resolutions. The Council can take punitive measures, imposing sanctions on violators. In the past, such measures have included travel bans, economic restrictions and arms embargoes.

In this case, however, legal experts said any additional action would require a new resolution and its adoption would require the consent of the five veto-wielding council members, including the United States, Israel’s staunchest ally. ‘Israel.

There may also be legal challenges. While the United Nations says Security Council resolutions are considered part of international law, legal experts question whether all resolutions are binding on member states, or only those adopted under international law. chapter VII of the United Nations charter, which deals with threats to peace. The resolution adopted Monday did not explicitly mention Chapter VII.

U.N. officials said it was still binding on Israel, but some countries disagreed. South Korea said Monday that the resolution was not “explicitly coercive under Chapter VII”, but that it reflected a consensus of the international community.

Above all, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, argued that the the resolution was not binding. The United States, which holds significant power in the Security Council due to its permanent seat, likely views adoption of the resolution as a valuable political instrument rather than a binding order, experts said.

The American abstention sends a strong signal about its political priorities even if, in the short term, it is unlikely that the Security Council will take new measures, according to Ivo H. Daalder, former American ambassador to NATO.

“Neither Israel nor Hamas will be influenced by a UN resolution,” Daalder said.

What about help?

Israel controls the flow of aid to Gaza, and after five months of war, Gazans face a severe food crisis bordering on famine, particularly in the north, according to the United Nations and residents of the territory.

Humanitarian groups blamed Israel, which announced a siege of the territory after October 7. They say authorities have hampered aid deliveries through inspections and strict restrictions.

Israel says it is working to prevent aid from reaching Hamas and says its officials can process more aid than aid groups can distribute domestically. Growing lawlessness in Gaza has also made aid distribution difficult, with some convoys ending in deadly violence.

Not much has changed this week. The number of humanitarian trucks entering Gaza on Tuesday from the two border crossings open for aid roughly matched the average daily number of crossings this month, according to UN data. This figure, around 150 trucks per day, is almost 70% lower than the figure before October 7.

The aid was dropped on Gaza on Wednesday.Credit…Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

How did the resolution affect diplomacy?

Israel and Hamas still appear far apart in negotiations aimed at brokering a halt to fighting and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Mediators traveled to Qatar to try to narrow the differences. But on Monday evening, Hamas rejected Israel’s latest counterproposal and its political leader, visiting Tehran this week, said the resolution showed Israel was diplomatically isolated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that the resolution delayed negotiations, encouraging Hamas to demand better terms.

The biggest sticking point in ceasefire negotiations recently has been the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released, particularly those serving extended sentences for violence against Israelis, U.S. and Israeli officials said.