UN Security Council votes for 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire, US abstains

After more than five months of war, the UN Security Council for the first time Monday demanded an "immediate" ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The United States was the only member to abstain.

Drawing unusual applause in the normally staid Security Council, all 14 other members voted in favor of the resolution which "demands an immediate ceasefire" for the ongoing Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

It calls for the truce to lead to a "lasting, sustainable ceasefire" and demands that Hamas and other militants free hostages seized on 7 October.

The resolution also stresses the "urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip".

"Hamas welcomes the United Nations Security Council's call today for an immediate ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip, the militant group said, adding: "We also affirm our readiness to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that leads to the release of prisoners on both sides."

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield says she abstained because the resolution did not include an explicit condemnation of Hamas.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the US abstention on the resolution hurt Israel's fight against Hamas and the effort to release hostages held in the territory.

"It gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to accept a ceasefire without the release of our abductees," Netanyahu said.

To mark his protest, he cancelled the trip of an Israeli delegation to Washington that was to discuss alternatives to a looming attack on the Rafah border town, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians try to shelter from the ongoing bombardments.


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