The UN general assembly has condemned Israel for using “excessive force” against unarmed civilian demonstrators in Gaza. The draft resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 120 votes to eight, with 45 abstentions. The opposing states included the US, which had vetoed a similar resolution at the security council a few days earlier.
Most significantly, the resolution called on the UN secretary general, António Guterres, to report back within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and wellbeing of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including ... recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism”.
Of course the UN is only ever as effective as member states allow it to be. This old saw has been particularly true when it comes to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, where the UN’s responsibility for, but failure to bring about, the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a “two-state solution” is so glaringly obvious. Israeli forces continue to act with near impunity, seemingly beyond the reach of international law. The 120 recorded recent killings include the 21-year-old volunteer paramedic Razan al-Najjar, shot in the chest and killed near the separation fence between Israel and Gaza. Her only defence was her white medic’s tunic. Her apparent “crime”: assisting unarmed demonstrators who’d been shot and were writhing in agony on the ground.