Algeria proposes UN resolution demanding end to Rafah op, ceasefire, hostage release

Country’s UN ambassador says aim of move is to ‘stop the killing in Rafah’; US envoy says waiting to see the text before responding; diplomats believe vote could be within days

Algeria's ambassador to the United Nations, Amar Bendjama speaks during a Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on March 25, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
Algeria's ambassador to the United Nations, Amar Bendjama speaks during a Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on March 25, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

Algeria on Tuesday proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution that demands a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the release of all hostages held by Hamas and essentially orders Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah.

Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama said earlier Tuesday — after a closed-door meeting of the 15-member UN security body on Gaza — that the aim of the move was to “stop the killing in Rafah.”

The Algerian draft text, seen by Reuters, “decides that Israel, the occupying Power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah.”

It also cites a ruling by the International Court of Justice last week that ordered Israel to immediately halt its military assault on Rafah that would risk the destruction of the civilian population sheltering there, in a ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide.

“It will be a short text, a decisive text, to stop the killing in Rafah,” Bendjama told reporters.

The Algerian ambassador didn’t say when he hopes the resolution might be put to a vote, but diplomats said the council could vote within days.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on what the IDF said was a Hamas compound, adjacent to a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah, Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

The White House said Tuesday that Israel’s offensive in Rafah had not amounted to the type of full-scale operation that would breach US President Joe Biden’s “red lines,” and said it had no plans to change its policy toward Israel.

When asked about the new Algerian draft resolution, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “We’re waiting to see it and then we’ll react to it.”

“We hope that it could be done as quickly as possible because life is in the balance,” said Chinese Ambassador Fu Cong, expressing hope for a vote this week.

“It’s high time for this council to take action. This is a matter of life and death. This is a matter of emergency,” French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said before the council meeting.

The move comes after at least 45 people were killed and dozens wounded Sunday when a strike set off a blaze in a camp in a designated humanitarian zone of Rafah in southern Gaza. The casualty figures were released by Hamas-run health authorities in the Strip.

Troops of the Nahal Brigade operate in southern Gaza’s Rafah, in a handout image published May 28, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel said it targeted two Hamas terror operatives and had not intended to harm civilians. The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that a hidden store of Hamas weapons may have been the actual cause of the deadly blaze, and that an airstrike that targeted an adjacent area had used small munitions that would not ignite such a fire on their own.

A Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

The US has so far shielded its ally Israel by vetoing three draft council resolutions on the war against Hamas in Gaza.

But Washington has also abstained on three votes, most recently allowing the council in March to demand an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

The war was sparked on October 7 when Hamas launched a devastating attack on Israel, in which some 1,200 were killed and 252 hostages were seized amid acts of brutality and sexual assault. It is believed that 121 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive.

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of the hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza outside the Defense Ministry Headquarters in Tel Aviv, May 25, 2024. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and eighty-eight IDF soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

The IDF’s Rafah operation is considered one of the final phases of its war against the Palestinian terror group. After largely eradicating Hamas battalions in northern and central Gaza, the IDF set its sights on the southern area where it said four battalions remained. However, Israel faced heavy international pressure not to launch the Rafah operation as most displaced people from the north and center had sought refuge in the south.

The IDF launched a smaller-scale operation than originally planned earlier this month, but the ICJ ordered Israel to cease operations in Rafah that would risk the destruction of the civilian population sheltering there. Israel has said that it would continue the operation as it has no intention of committing genocide in Rafah.

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