Protesters rally outside United Nations to call for cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war

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Friday, December 8, 2023
Pro-Palestinian protestors march in Lower Manhattan calling for cease-fire
N.J. Burkett has more on Friday's protests.

MIDTOWN EAST, Manhattan (WABC) -- There were protests outside the United Nations on Friday as demonstrators called for a cease-fire in Gaza as officials warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Friday that he invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter for the first time since 1971 because "there is a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza." That article allows a U.N. chief to raise threats he sees to international peace and security.

Guterres warned that the Gaza Strip is at "a breaking point" and desperate people are at serious risk of starvation. He said the U.N. anticipates this would result in "a complete breakdown of public order and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt."

The United States vetoed the United Nations resolution Friday backed by the vast majority of Security Council members and many other nations demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

The veto isolates the United States, which has stated it would use its veto power to block any efforts at a permanent cease-fire.

The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1 with the United Kingdom abstaining.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood criticized the council after the vote for its failure to condemn Hamas' attacks in Israel and to acknowledge Israel's right to defend itself. He declared that halting military action would allow Hamas to continue to rule and "only plant the seeds for the next war."

Protesters outside the UN on Friday morning told Eyewitness News they feel the U.S. should threaten to stop aid to the Israeli government if they don't stop bombing Gaza.

"The United States' policy toward Israel and Palestine is creating more danger for Jews both here in the United States and also in the Middle East," protester Michael Hoexter said.

The U.N. secretary-general told the Security Council that Hamas' brutality against Israelis on Oct. 7 "can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people." He stressed that "while indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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