Page last updated at 05:04 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

UN backs ceasefire call for Gaza


Diplomats cast their vote on the resolution

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution urging an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with the US alone abstaining.

The UK-drafted resolution also calls for a full Israeli withdrawal, unimpeded humanitarian access and intense diplomatic efforts for peace.

After 13 days of war, an estimated 770 Palestinians and 14 Israelis are dead.

Israeli bombing killed at least six Palestinians overnight, medics and Hamas officials say.

In a report which could not be verified independently, Hamas said a bomb had flattened a five-storey apartment block in northern Gaza.

Israeli warplanes made 30 new air strikes after dark.

The UN's relief agency halted aid operations in Gaza on Thursday after one person was killed and two hurt when a fork-lift truck on a UN aid mission came under Israeli tank fire at Gaza's Erez crossing.

US waits

It is the first time the Security Council has acted since the Israeli offensive in Gaza began on 27 December.


Explaining America's abstention, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the resolution was a step forward but her government wanted to see the outcome of mediation efforts.

"The United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts, in order to see what this resolution might have been supporting and that is why we chose to abstain," she said.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was the Council's job "to turn the words of [the] resolution into reality".

Israel wants to stop rocket attacks on southern Israel and to stop Hamas smuggling weapons into Gaza via Egypt, while Hamas says any ceasefire deal must include an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Efforts have continued to broker a full ceasefire - a senior Israeli official is in Cairo to hear details of a plan put forward by Egypt and France.

A Hamas delegation is expected in the Egyptian capital at some stage for parallel "technical" talks, Egyptian diplomats said.

The UN's relief agency Unrwa said it was "with great regret" that it had been forced to make a difficult decision temporarily to halt aid deliveries.

"Our installations have been hit, our workers have been killed in spite of the fact that the Israeli authorities have the co-ordinates of our facilities and that all our movements are co-ordinated with the Israeli army," said Unrwa spokesman Chris Gunness.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also accused Israel of failing to fulfil its duty to help wounded civilians in Gaza.

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