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US calls for UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire 

The United States has intensified efforts to secure a Gaza ceasefire by urging a UN Security Council vote on the matter and dispatching its top diplomat to the region, which has endured eight months of conflict.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit followed continued Israeli bombardments in Gaza, with reports of overnight airstrikes in central areas and helicopter attacks on Gaza City. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced growing domestic opposition, highlighted by war cabinet member Benny Gantz’s resignation on Sunday due to dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s war management.

The U.S. aimed to advance ceasefire negotiations by proposing a UN draft resolution advocating for an “immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages” between Israel and Hamas. The U.S., a strong supporter of Israel, has previously faced criticism for blocking several UN ceasefire resolutions.

A separate initiative led by President Joe Biden on May 31 has yet to yield concrete outcomes, and the possibility of a truce was further undermined by an Israeli special forces raid on Saturday to free hostages, resulting in significant Palestinian casualties.

According to the Israeli military, militants heavily attacked the extraction team and the four rescued captives with gun and grenade fire, killing one police officer. Israel’s air force retaliated with strikes that demolished nearby buildings. 

The health ministry in Gaza, governed by Hamas, reported 274 deaths and 698 injuries, dubbing it the “Nuseirat massacre,” although these figures remain unverified.

Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over the failure to secure the release of remaining hostages, and Gantz’s resignation represents a significant political setback, though it does not topple the right-wing government. Gantz had previously demanded a post-war strategy for Gaza by June 8.

The four hostages freed are part of the seven rescued alive since the October 7 abduction of 251 Israelis by Palestinian militants. A truce in November resulted in a prisoner exchange, but 116 hostages remain in Gaza, with 41 confirmed dead according to the Israeli army. Israel’s top diplomat dismissed allegations of war crimes in the rescue operation.

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