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United States continues to block Gaza ceasefire efforts at UN Security Council

The US once again stands alone among its peers on the Council, complicit in extending the suffering of Palestinian civilians.

Destroyed buildings in Gaza, Palestine on December 12, 2023.

Today, February 20, the United Nations Security Council once again failed to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza—blocked by a veto from the United States. The United Kingdom abstained.

In addition to demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the draft resolution, tabled by Algeria, also called for the opening of border crossings, the delivery of aid, and compliance with international law pertaining to the protection of civilians.

Today is the third time the US has vetoed a Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza since the start of the war.

The United States also presented an alternative proposal to today’s resolution stating that a ground offensive into Rafah would “result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement.” It called for a ceasefire, but only a temporary one and only “as soon as practicable”—not an immediate or permanent cessation of fighting.

Avril Benoît, executive director of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-USA), gave the following statement:

The United States continues to obstruct efforts by the UN Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire and bring meaningful humanitarian aid and desperately needed relief to the people of Gaza. The US once again stands alone among its peers on the Council, complicit in extending the suffering of Palestinian civilians.

Four months into this war, Israeli forces continue to indiscriminately attack civilians and civilian structures, impose a siege that amounts to collective punishment, force mass displacement, and deny access to vital medical care and humanitarian assistance.

A ceasefire has never been more urgent. Today, there are more than 1.5 million people trapped in Rafah, the southernmost point of the Gaza Strip. They are living in dire conditions, in flimsy tents with little access to water, sanitation, food, or health care. They have nowhere else left to go. The government of Israel has announced that a full-scale assault on the area is imminent.

A military offensive in Rafah will kill and injure countless people. So many of the nightmare scenarios we had warned about have already unfolded in Gaza, but an attack on Rafah would be truly unimaginable.

The US government has repeatedly stressed how concerned it is for civilians in Gaza, while simultaneously funding and providing diplomatic cover to Israel for a war characterized by an extraordinarily high number of civilian deaths and repeated attacks on hospitals and health care workers.

If the United States and other member states were truly committed to protecting human life and upholding humanitarian law in Gaza, they would do everything in their power to end this suffering and bring about an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

How MSF is responding to the war in Gaza