Despite growing international pressure, US President Joe Biden’s administration remains opposed to an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The US and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas.
“A ceasefire is handing a prize to Hamas, dismissing the hostages held in Gaza, and signalling terror groups everywhere,” Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement.
The vote was called “one of the darkest days in the history of the Middle East”, by Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky.
The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining.
France and Japan were among those supporting the call for a ceasefire.
Instead, Washington supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack on Israel.
Supporters called it a terrible day and warned of more civilian deaths and destruction as the war goes into its third month.
“What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” deputy UAE UN ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council.
“Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”
The Palestinian death toll in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war has surpassed 17,700.
Seventy per cent of them were women and children, according to the Palestinian territory’s Health Ministry.
133 UN agency staffers killed in Israeli bombardment
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) confirmed the deaths of 133 employees in Gaza due to Israeli attacks.
The UN agency said on X: “The situation of civilians in #Gaza is untenable, we are reaching a point of no return. 133 UNRWA colleagues have been confirmed killed in bombardments, most with their families.”
Yemen rebels threaten ships headed to Israel
On Saturday, Yemen’s Houthi movement said they would target all ships heading to Israel, “regardless of their nationality”, and warned all international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.
“If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces,” a Houthi military spokesperson said in a statement.
The Iran-aligned group has attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea and its Bab al-Mandab strait, a sea lane through which much of the world’s oil is shipped, and fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel.
Houthi officials say their actions are a show of support for the Palestinians.
Israel said the attacks on ships was an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.
US approves emergency sale of tank shells to Israel
The Biden administration has used an emergency authority to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without congressional review, the Pentagon said on Saturday.
The State Department on Friday used an Arms Export Control Act emergency declaration for the tank rounds worth $US106.5 million ($160 million) for immediate delivery to Israel.
First reported by Reuters on Friday, the shells are part of a bigger sale that the Biden administration is asking the US Congress to approve.
The larger package is worth more than $500 million and includes 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks, regularly deployed in its offensive in Gaza, which has killed thousands of civilians.
As the war intensified, how and where exactly the US weapons are used in the conflict has come under more scrutiny.
But US officials say there are no plans to put conditions on military aid to Israel or to consider withholding some of it.