by Anna Violante

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on Monday 25 March calling for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and the “urgent need to increase the flow of aid” to Gaza. There were 14 votes in favour, with the United States abstaining. The resolution was introduced by the non-permanent members of the Council. For the first time, the US didn’t use its veto. UN Secretary-General António Guterres immediately said: “This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable. …” 

Unfortunately, the Israeli authorities don’t seem ready to respect it. Benjamin Netanyahu promptly called Joe Biden a traitor, named UN officials anti-Semitic and cancelled an Israeli delegation’s visit to Washington to discuss possible Rafah operations. Yesterday, as the Israeli Prime Minister tried to forge a new bond of friendship with the US and its President Biden, bombs continued to be fired on the South of Gaza.

The situation in the Strip is tragic. UN Children’s Fund spokesperson James Elder said that 13,750 children have now been killed according to Gaza’s health authorities. Citing reports of “a double-digit number of children killed overnight”, Elder noted that this had happened “only hours after the (Security Council) resolution was passed”. 

Children are the main victims of this war, not only because they are dying under the bombs or from hunger. Most of them haven’t been to school for months. Figures show that 62 schools were directly targeted in the southern governorate of Khan Younis, 14 in the central governorate, 94 in the Gaza Strip governorate and 42 in the northern governorate of Gaza, where 86.2 per cent of school buildings were either directly hit or damaged.

The Security Council’s provision for the distribution of humanitarian aid has also been ignored, with hundreds of trucks still stuck across the border in Egypt.  While Israel continues to prevent UNWRA from delivering aid in the north of the Strip, airdropped supplies have again claimed lives, as two days ago people drowned in the sea while trying to collect food off the coast.

The situation is not much better in the West Bank, where nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since 7 October. At least 95 of the victims are children. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah reported that three people were killed by IDF fire in the city of Jenin the day before yesterday.

Deaths continue in southern Lebanon too, where two days ago Israeli air strikes, claiming to be targeting Hamas leaders and Hezbollah, destroyed homes and killed several civilians. In response to the attacks, Hezbollah rockets killed an Israeli Druse near the border.

In Europe and the US, the press is beginning to publish investigations, such that of the New York Times on the IDF’s use of facial recognition technology in Gaza, where hundreds of Palestinians were arrested using an AI-based system operated in part by the military’s intelligence service. Or the involvement of European arms companies in the war. The French media outlet Mediapart discovered that the Marseille-based company Eurolinks, which manufactures ammunition for automatic weapons, exported at least 800kg of these components to Tel Aviv for use against civilians in Gaza.

Atlas of Wars recently denounced the use of Italian state-owned Leonardo weapons in indiscriminate bombing raids on densely populated urban areas.  The list goes on as European universities follow their US counterparts in publicly condemning the slaughter in Gaza. 

In Israel, meanwhile, where young people can go around armed, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has suspended a prominent Palestinian professor, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, for her comments on Zionism. Dissent is now banned in Israel and harsh criticism is levelled against Jewish figures, as in the case of journalist and film director Yuval Abraham, who was harshly criticised and faced isolation for his anti-occupation and anti-apartheid speech at the Berlin Film Festival, where his ‘No Other Land’ won the best documentary award.

As more and more people consider leaving the country for good, anti-government demonstrations are becoming more frequent. Tomorrow, Friday 29 March, in the northern town of Shefa-’Amr, Palestinians and Jews will march together to demand an end to the raging war and a political agreement. “The biggest threat to the right-wing is Jewish-Palestinian solidarity, the growth of our movement and our call for peace.” So says Standing Together, the organisation that has been fighting tirelessly for equality, organising weekly rallies and marches in different Israeli cities since October.

On the cover photo, banner in front of president Isaac Herzog’s residence in Jerusalem © Anna Violante