The UN Security Council on Wednesday called for "extended humanitarian pauses" in the Gaza Strip, the first time it has broken its silence since the start of the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The resolution, prepared by Malta and adopted with 12 votes in favor, "calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days" to allow aid to reach civilians in the besieged territory.
Three states abstained -- the United States, Britain and Russia.
Diplomats say members waited to schedule a vote until they were relatively sure of success.
After the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants, and Israel's reprisal bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the council tried -- in vain -- to adopt a resolution of some kind.
But four drafts failed in October, exposing the body's long-held divisions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other.
Faced with the council's inability to act, the UN General Assembly on October 27 adopted with a large majority a nonbinding text calling for an "immediate humanitarian truce."
The United States and Israel voted against the text, which did not mention Hamas.
With its 10 non-permanent members taking the lead, the Security Council launched new talks on a resolution, but those negotiations got bogged down on the wording to be used to call for a stop, however brief, to the fighting.
The United States opposed any use of the term "ceasefire," diplomats said. Other terms floated were "truce" and "pause."
"I know we are all disappointed about the inaction of the Council in the past 40 days," China's UN ambassador Jun Zhang said Wednesday.
The resolution passed on Wednesday mentions children in nearly every paragraph, including "demands that all parties comply with their obligations under international law... notably with regard to the protection of civilians, especially children."
It also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas militants and other groups, especially children.
Malta's UN envoy Vanessa Frazier said "the Security Council members are united in wanting a voice."