Israel’s ruthless attacks, the brutal military siege, and the displacement of over a million people in the space of two months, have left the Gaza Strip in ruins and its population severely traumatized, sick, injured, starving, and, in most cases, homeless. In only seven weeks, Israel has flattened entire neighborhoods in northern Gaza and severely damaged over 60 percent of its buildings. The extent of destruction has approached levels seen during the years-long carpet bombing of German cities during World War II, according to a report by the Financial Times. “Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns,” U.S. military historian Robert Pape told the Financial Times.
United Nations (UN)
Western governments frequently claim that their foreign and domestic policies are motivated by “human rights” and “democracy”. They often even lecture their adversaries for purportedly failing to respect these concerns. But on the international stage, Western capitals have shown their commitments to be merely rhetorical, as they have consistently voted against these noble causes and refused to support measures that would tangibly protect them, in flagrant violation of the will of the vast majority of the international community. These stark double standards were on display on November 7 in the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee, which is devoted to social, humanitarian, and cultural issues.
The United Nation Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) has claimed that there is a deliberate attempt to strangle its activities in the besieged Gaza strip by Israel which may lead to the shutting down all its humanitarian activities. Speaking to the press on Thursday, November 16, Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said there is a risk of the agency shutting down all its humanitarian work in the region due to lack of fuel and consistent attacks on its activities. “I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyze the UNRWA operation,” Lazzarini said.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said that Israeli army tanks were surrounding the al-Rantisi and al-Nasr hospitals in Gaza City on Friday, as medical centers across the besieged Gaza Strip were subjected to an escalation of Israeli bombardment in the past 24 hours. “Thousands of patients, medical staff, and displaced people are trapped inside hospitals, without water and food, and are at risk of death at any moment. The world should be ashamed of itself for not doing anything in the face of massacres, and targeting and besieging hospitals,” Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra wrote. Al-Jazeera meanwhile reported that Israeli forces had carried out strikes throughout the night very close to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Workers at the Spanish port of Barcelona announced their refusal to allow any ships carrying weapons to operate inside the port, rejecting the violence practiced by Israel in the occupied territories, and accusing the UN of failing to carry out its role. The workers said in a statement to their association that it is their duty to adhere to and defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at a time when the signatory countries have forgotten about it. The statement continued: “We decided within the association not to allow ships containing war materials to operate in our port, for the sole purpose of protecting any civilian population, regardless of their location, as there is no justification for sacrificing civilians.”
A United Nations body has issued a damning report blasting the United States for its rampant violations of a major human rights treaty that it ratified in 1992. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) enshrines the rights to life, to vote, and to freedom of expression and assembly; and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It forbids discrimination in the enjoyment of civil and political rights based on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (which includes sexual orientation).
Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip entered its second month on Tuesday. At least 10,500 Palestinians have been killed and 24,000 injured in airstrikes and ground shelling, which have targeted houses, schools, hospitals, water tanks, solar panels, main roads, mosques, and universities. In less than a month, an estimated 25,000 tons of explosives have been dropped on the Gaza Strip, an area of 365 square kilometers where 2.3 million Palestinians live, the majority of them refugees whose families were expelled or fled from their towns during the 1948 war. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has left no corner of Gaza safe for Palestinians. In the past month, all communications and internet have been cut in Gaza.
US officials frequently talk about the “rules-based international order”, and label other countries as “rogue states” if Washington doesn’t like their policies. But a look at votes in the United Nations clearly shows that the United States consistently opposes the will of the entire international community. The world saw a striking example of this on November 2, when almost every country on Earth supported a UN General Assembly resolution that called to end the US embargo against Cuba. Only two countries voted against the measure: the United States and Israel. Just one country abstained: Ukraine.
Senior UN Human Rights official Craig Mokhiber recently resigned over the organization's failure to address the brutal genocide in Gaza and Israel's apartheid policies against Palestinians. In this interview with Vijay Prashad, he talks about how the UN failed the people of Palestine over the decades and how the UN moved away from the principled norms-based approach rooted in international law when it came to the question of Palestine. Mokhiber explains the role played by countries such as the United States in this shift. He also says that hope lies in the massive demonstrations that are taking place across the world in solidarity with the people of Palestine and against the Israeli genocide.
Human rights attorney Craig Mokhiber left his United Nations post with a resignation letter excoriating the U.N. response to Israel's devastating war on the Gaza Strip—a four-page document that has been circulating on social media this week. Mokhiber, who has spent decades with the U.N., was serving as the New York director for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). His letter to the agency's leader, Volker Türk, is dated October 28—when Israeli forces were shifting to the "second stage" of a war that has killed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in retaliation for a deadly Hamas-led attack on Israel.
While Israel indiscriminately bombs the Gaza strip, killing thousands of Palestinian civilians, the United States has blocked numerous ceasefire proposals at the United Nations Security Council. Instead of supporting peace, Washington has sent more weapons and military aid to Israel. Meanwhile, mainstream Western human rights organizations have clearly stated that Israel is carrying out rampant war crimes, wiping out entire families. A top UN expert warned “that Palestinians are in grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing”.
On Oct. 2, the UN Security Council voted to approve a “multinational security support mission” in Haiti—ostensibly for the purposes of stopping gang violence and restoring law and order. Led by Kenya, this multinational force will be comprised of security forces from mostly Caribbean and Latin American countries. Despite receiving the blessing of the Security Council, this “security support mission” is not an official UN mission. Rather than being funded by the UN, the mission will be primarily funded by the US, which has already committed $200 million. This latest military intervention, should it materialize, will be the fourth foreign occupation of Haiti in 30 years.
Once again Haiti is the victim of imperialist intrigues, with no other nation willing or able to act on its behalf. The United Nations vote to authorize an occupation of Haiti, the tenth such occurrence in the last 30 years, was given tacit approval by Russia and China, who chose to abstain rather than use their Security Council veto power to stop this latest aggression. Thirteen other Security Council members voted to approve what is called a security mission that will quell gang violence. The mission is paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense, while Kenya is taking the lead by providing a force on the ground.
On the seventh day of its war in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces ordered over 1.1 million Palestinians in the northern parts of the territory to evacuate their homes and move to the south in the next few hours on Friday, October 13. Israel claimed it may launch a ground offensive to clear Hamas operatives who are allegedly hiding in the territory, AP reported. The Israeli ultimatum includes the UN staff and all the shelters run by them for the Gazans who were displaced in Israeli bombings in the last seven days. The order has raised the fear of a looming ethnic cleansing of Gaza and expulsion of over a million Palestinians from their homes.
On October 3, Kenyan President William Ruto welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision endorsing the deployment of foreign troops to Haiti. A Kenyan High Court has temporarily blocked the deployment of Kenyan police officers to Haiti after petitioners challenged the move. “A conservatory order is hereby issued restraining the respondents from deploying police officers to Haiti or any other country until October 24, 2023,” Judge Chacha Mwita said on Monday. The joint petition, filed by former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot and others, argues that Kenya’s constitution restricts police officers ability to operate within the country’s borders.