UN Security Council encounters Israeli-Palestinian violence
An excavator on Sunday clears the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City following Israeli airstrikes. Image: Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images
Members of the United Nations Security Council met virtually Sunday to deliberate on escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. In the past week, more than 180 Palestinians and 10 people in Israel have been killed.
Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets at Israel while Israel responded with airstrikes.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the meeting by expressing concerns that if a ceasefire is not reached soon, violence will continue and the situation will get out of hand. He called the current hostilities “absolutely appalling”.
“This latest wave of violence only perpetuates cycles of death, destruction and despair. … The fighting must end, it must end immediately,” Guterres said. “Rockets and mortars on one side, aerial and artillery bombardment on the other, must stop. I call on all parties to heed this call. The United Nations actively urges all parties to a ceasefire. -immediate fire. “
Weeks of sporadic violence escalated in East Jerusalem earlier this month following protests against the evictions of Palestinian residents from properties that Jewish settlers claim as theirs. And on May 6, Israeli police in riot gear clashed with crowds of Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In some towns inside Israel, Jewish and Palestinian mobs attacked each other. Palestinian Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s population.
Almost all of the countries participating in Sunday’s talks urged both sides to agree to a ceasefire. The representatives recognized Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens, while asserting that Israel is in a more powerful position in this particular conflict, and must act accordingly.
The Israel Defense Forces carried out hundreds of precision attacks against suspected Hamas structures and fighters. However, some of the attacks damaged or destroyed refugee camps, schools, hospitals and, on Saturday, a skyscraper that housed several media organizations, including the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.
Speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel “will do whatever it takes to restore order and calm, the security of our people and deterrence.”
Netanyahu said Israel, like other countries, has the right to defend itself.
“We are trying to degrade Hamas’ terrorist capabilities and degrade its willingness to start over,” he said. “So it’s going to take time. I hope it won’t take long, but it’s not immediate.”
The prime minister said the attacks on Hamas, which the United States recognizes as a terrorist organization, target rocket sites, weapons caches and fighters.
When asked what evidence the IDF had that Hamas was using the building that also housed the PA and Al-Jazeera offices, Netanyahu said Israel had information that Hamas had “an office. intelligence … who plots and organizes terrorist attacks “from the building.
At the UN Security Council meeting, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour wondered how many Palestinian lives it would take for the international community to intervene. The conflict, he says, is not between arguing neighbors; it is colonialism.
“There are no people on Earth who would tolerate this reality. Israel keeps saying, ‘Put yourself in our shoes’, but they are not wearing shoes, they are wearing military boots,” Mansour said. . “Why don’t you put yourself in our shoes? What would you do if your country was occupied? What would you do to gain independence? How many Palestinians killed are enough to be sentenced? We know that one Israeli is enough, but how many Palestinians? “
Hamas fighters fired more rockets at Israel on Sunday as Israeli airstrikes destroyed three buildings in Gaza and killed at least 42 people, marking the deadliest day since violence began a week ago.
The United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, said Sunday that at least 181 Palestinians, including 52 children, were killed and 1,200 injured in airstrikes. At least 34,000 are homeless. In Israel, nine Israelis, including two children, and an Indian national were killed and more than 250 injured, he said.
Addressing the UN Security Council, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan echoed many of the Prime Minister’s statements, saying Hamas uses civilians as human shields and Israel has the right to defend itself.
“Israel has made its choice. We will take all necessary measures to defend our people,” he told the UN. “Now you have to make your own. The world is watching you.”
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