UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS, United States - The UN Security Council on Monday appealed for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza at a late-night emergency meeting called as fighting between Israel and Hamas entered its third week.

The 15-member Council released a statement calling for the truce to allow aid deliveries during the Muslim Eid festival marking the end of Ramadan, and as the death toll rose to more than 1,030 Palestinians.

The Council expressed "strong support" for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire," allowing for urgent deliveries of aid, and urged all sides to "accept and fully implement" the truce.

The statement was put forward by Jordan with the backing of Arab countries.

Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, voiced disappointment, saying the measure fell short of a formal resolution demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

"They should have adopted a resolution a long time ago to condemn this aggression and to call for this aggression to be stopped immediately," said Mansour following the meeting.

"We are disappointed in that sense," he said, adding that the Palestinians would continue pressing the Security Council to move toward a formal binding resolution.

Push for a resolution

Jordan's deputy envoy Mahmoud Daifallah Mahmoud Hmoud said he would continue to press for a stronger stance by the Council through a formal resolution.

"The killing has reached incomparable levels," he said following the meeting.

In its statement, the Council voiced "grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties." The Council said "civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected" following outrage over the Israeli attack on a UN-run school in Gaza this week that left 15 dead.

It called on Israel and the Palestinian Hamas to try to reach a ceasefire based on the Egyptian initiative, and applauded US Secretary John Kerry's efforts to broker a deal.

The emergency session came after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce, with Israel pounding Gaza with artillery on Sunday after a night of rocket fire from Hamas.

The two sides observed a 12-hour pause on Saturday, allowing Gaza medics to pull bodies from rubble.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor suggested the stance taken by the Council was biased.

"Miraculously it doesn't mention Hamas. It doesn't mention the firing of rockets. Those things are lacking in this statement, he said.

"You don't have to have the IQ of a rocket scientist to understand that if rockets are falling on you, you are allowed to defend yourself." It was the second time in as many weeks that the top world body has convened a late Sunday meeting to appeal for a ceasefire in Gaza, where fighting has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians as well as 43 Israeli soldiers.

US President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and "made clear" to him directly that there was a need for a humanitarian ceasefire, the White House said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon returned over the weekend from a regional tour to push for a ceasefire and continued to press for a break in the fighting.

The violence, said Ban Sunday, has "killed too many, marred so many lives, and caused such destruction."


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