As Israel’s relentless bombing campaign over Gaza extends into its second month, several countries have recalled their diplomats from Tel Aviv over accusations of egregious war crimes.
“A genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated,” Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, minister in the presidency of South Africa, told reporters on Monday.
Turkey, Chad, Jordan, Bolivia, Chile, Bahrain, Honduras, Colombia and South Africa have recalled their diplomats from Israel in protest of the high number of deaths and the amount of destruction resulting from the Israeli bombardment.
The bombings have killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza, including over 4,000 children, according to the Gaza-based Ministry of Health, an agency within the Hamas-led government.
Israeli officials say they are trying to minimize civilian casualties but emphasize their resolve to eradicate the Hamas group, which they say has placed key military sites close to hospitals and in densely populated areas, effectively using civilians as human shields.
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Hamas fighters killed 1,400 people and kidnapped over 200 others in Israel last month.
The United States, historically a staunch ally of Israel, has rushed to Israel’s support with $14 billion in emergency aid in addition to an annual $3.3 billion in assistance. It has also used its veto to protect Israel from critical resolutions in the United Nations Security Council.
Last month, 120 U.N. member states voted for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, but the United States and 12 other states — among them Nauru, which has a population of 10,800 — voted against the call.
“At present the U.S. seems somewhat isolated,” William Roebuck, former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, told VOA.
“I think it’s a temporary situation that reflects differences over when a cease-fire should be called for and go into effect.”
Israeli and U.S. officials maintain that a cease-fire will benefit Hamas, allowing it to prepare for yet another deadly attack on Israel.
The United States has called for a “humanitarian pause” to allow lifesaving aid to reach civilians in Gaza, but Israel has insisted any halt to its bombardment must be accompanied by the release of all the hostages.
“The sheer scale of Israel’s military operation in Gaza and the simultaneously increased targeting of Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank will likely lead more countries to consider diplomatic moves such as public condemnation, delaying normalization talks (e.g., Saudi Arabia), or severing diplomatic ties,” Sarah Parkinson, a professor of international studies at Johns Hopkins University, told VOA by email.
This month, China is presiding over the Security Council meetings where U.S., Russian and Chinese diplomats have already vetoed competing draft resolutions aimed at addressing the crisis.
“As the rotating president of the Security Council, China will continue to work with relevant parties to galvanize responsible Security Council action and play an active and constructive role in ceasing the hostilities, easing the humanitarian situation, and ultimately realizing durable Palestinian-Israeli peace through the two-state solution,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday.
While the call for a cease-fire has wider support among U.N. member states, building consensus for it among the five permanent members of the Security Council has been difficult if not impossible.
“The threat of a U.S. veto will make it impossible for China to get anything out of the UNSC that’s critical of Israel, but if the fighting continues and Washington concludes that this is damaging its position, China may be able to get a resolution for a cease-fire that takes a neutral stance and does not single out Israel,” Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, told VOA.
Traditionally, every time Israel is involved in a war, the U.S. has shielded it at the U.N. and other international bodies even at the cost of appearing isolated and partial, experts say.
“The general calculation has been that when the conflict subsides, often as the result of U.S. diplomatic efforts, the United States’ isolation will ease,” said Roebuck.
When defining U.S. “enlightened self-interest” in preserving a rules-based international order in September, Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Russia and China for standing isolated in dictating their choices to other nations.
“They claim that what governments do within their borders is their business alone, and that human rights are subjective values that vary from one society to another,” Blinken said, adding that U.S. policy is based on cooperating with other countries in solving global challenges.
Over the past month, as Blinken toured the Middle East twice, he has seen U.S. allies such as Jordan and Turkey criticizing Washington’s unreserved support for Israel.
“For some countries, it looks like Western hypocrisy when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is strongly condemned, but Israel’s occupation of Gaza is not condemned,” said Walt.
While vetoes have nearly paralyzed the Security Council on the Gaza crisis, hundreds of thousands of people have marched in cities around the world calling for an immediate cease-fire.
A pro-Palestinian protest in Washington on Saturday brought tens of thousands of people within two miles of the State Department building, demanding an end to U.S. aid for the Israeli military.
Despite their differences over a cease-fire, the United States is in agreement with China and other countries in seeking an ultimate solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.
“We remain committed to working towards a durable and sustainable peace in the region, including the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Blinken wrote on his official X account last week.