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Singapore votes in favour of UN resolution to protect civilians, uphold humanitarian obligations in Gaza Strip

SINGAPORE: Singapore voted in favour of a resolution to protect civilians and uphold legal and humanitarian obligations amid conflict in the Gaza Strip during an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday (Oct 27).

In a statement at the session, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the UN Burhan Gafoor expressed the country’s “utmost support” for UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ efforts to sustain the flow of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.

“We support all efforts to defuse tensions in order to avoid an escalation of the conflict,” he said. “We mourn the loss and suffering of so many innocent civilians, including children and the elderly.

“This attack cannot be condoned or justified by any rationale. We condemn this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms. We also call for the immediate and safe release of all hostages taken by Hamas.”

A total of 120 countries voted in favour of the resolution, while 14 voted against. Forty-five countries chose to abstain from voting.

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The resolution outlined several terms, including recalling existing resolutions to protect civilians in armed conflict.

It also expressed “grave concern” over the latest escalation of violence since the attack on Oct 7 and the “grave deterioration” of the situation in the region.

The latest resolution condemned “all acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians” – including all acts of terrorism, indiscriminate attacks, as well as acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.

It called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” and demanded that all parties immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law as well as the immediate, continuous and sufficient and unhindered provision of sessential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip.

RESOLUTION HAD ‘GLARING AND SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS’

Explaining the decision in a separate statement, Mr Gafoor said the vote was made “after very careful consideration”.

However, he noted that the resolution has “two glaring and significant omissions”.

“First, it makes no mention of the Hamas’ role in perpetrating the massive and coordinated terror attacks, which led to the brutal killing of 1,400 Israelis and others and the abduction of more than 200 hostages,” he said.

“These are acts of terror that we condemn unequivocally, and the abhorrent deeds of Hamas cannot be justified by any rationale whatsoever. We reiterate our call for the immediate, unconditional and safe release of all civilians taken hostage.

“Second, this resolution does not acknowledge Israel’s legitimate right to defend its citizens and territory in compliance with international law.

“As with every country, Israel has a right to defend itself from heinous terrorist attacks, to protect its people from senseless violence and to keep its territory secure,” he said.

Nevertheless, Singapore supported the resolution as “we have always been a consistent advocate and defender of international law, the UN Charter and the rules-based multilateral system”, he added.

“This resolution reaffirms all parties’ obligations to respect and uphold international law, including international humanitarian law,” Mr Gafoor said.

He noted that the resolution “expresses strong support for the efforts by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and for his calls for the immediate and unrestricted access of humanitarian aid, and to respond to the most basic needs of the Palestinian civilian population amidst the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip”.

“It demands that all parties immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law,” he said.

“These obligations have been spelt out in many UN Security Council Resolutions. All innocent civilian lives must be protected.”

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