Algeria proposes UN action to “stop the massacres in Rafah”

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Algeria proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Tuesday demanding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the release of all hostages held by Hamas and essentially ordering Israel to “immediately end its military offensive” in Rafah.

Algeria’s UN ambassador, Amar Bendjama, said earlier on Tuesday – after a closed-door meeting of the 15 members of the UN security body on Gaza – that the aim of the decision was to “put end to the killings in Rafah.” Algeria is a member of the council for 2024/25.

The Algerian draft text, seen by Reuters, uses the Security Council’s strongest language: it “decides that Israel, the occupying power, will immediately end its military offensive and all other actions in Rafah.”

It also cites a ruling last week by the International Court of Justice that ordered Israel to immediately cease its military attack on Rafah, in a historic emergency ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide.

Diplomats said the council could vote within days.

The move comes after an attack on Sunday sparked a fire at a camp in the designated humanitarian zone of Rafah in southern Gaza, killing at least 45 people. Israel said it had targeted Hamas militants and had not intended to harm civilians.

To pass, a Council resolution requires at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China. The United States has so far protected its ally Israel by vetoing three draft Council resolutions on the Gaza war.

But Washington also abstained in three votes, most recently allowing the council to demand an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in March.

Israel is retaliating against Hamas, which rules Gaza, following an attack by its militants on October 7, in which more than 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli counts. Nearly 130 hostages are believed to still be held captive in Gaza.

Israel launched an air, land and sea attack on the blockaded Palestinian territory, killing more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities. Israel says it wants to eliminate the last large intact formations of Hamas fighters entrenched in Rafah and rescue the hostages.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Kanishka Singh and Michael Perry)