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UNSC meets to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza

November 15, 2012 15:46 IST

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the deadly Israeli attack on Gaza, with India expressing hope that Israel and Palestine will pay heed to the Council's message that the two should exercise restraint and violence must stop.

"It is our expectation that the council's meeting will help de-escalate the situation and impress upon the parties the need to exercise maximum restraint so that the situation does not deteriorate any further.

"The message which must resonate from this meeting is that violence has to stop," India's Permanent Representative to the UNĀ  Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters after the late night 90-minute closed door emergency meeting.

Puri, who is also president of the Security Council, was speaking in his national capacity and not on behalf of the council.

He said all the statements that he heard during the meeting "resonated with the message that the violence has to stop, there has to be de-escalation (of violence)".

The council did not come up with any statement on the Israeli attack and Puri said council members had only agreed to issue a communique, which would state that an emergency meeting on the situation had taken place.

He said the Council will continue to monitor the crisis.

The council also heard a briefing on the situation from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

Tensions flared between Israel and Palestine after Israel launched deadly stikes against Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza on Wednesday.

Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, the head of the military wing of the Palestinian group Hamas that controls Gaza, was killed when his car was targeted during Israeli air strikes on the territory that followed a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about the escalating violence in Gaza and southern Israel.

Ban's spokesperson said the UN Chief expressed his concern to Netanyahu about the deteriorating situation in southern Israel and Gaza, which includes an alarming escalation of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by Israel of the Hamas military operative in Gaza.

In his conversation with Morsi, the secretary-general stated the need to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, and expressed strong support for the leadership

being exercised by Egypt to restore calm in the region.

The US voiced its support for Israel's right to self-defence, strongly condemning the "barrage of rocket fire" from Gaza into southern Israel.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice expressed regret at the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence.

She told the council that President Barack Obama spoke with Netanyahu and Morsi about the developing situation in Gaza.

Rice said Israel has noted that, since the beginning of 2012, more than 768 rockets have been fired into its territory from Gaza, and over 12,000 in the past 12 years.

"Israel, like any nation, has the right to defend itself against such vicious attacks. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organisations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately," Rice added.

"Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause.

"Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza nor to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination and independence," she said.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said through the strikes Israel is trying to divert the attention of the international community just as Palestine's request to seek an upgrade of its observer status is due for vote in the General Assembly on November 29.

"Israel is dead afraid of allowing us to succeed in legislating the state of Palestine in the General Assembly.

Part of the timing of the attack is trying to divert the attention" of the international community from mobilizing support for "our efforts on November 29 of legislating Palestinian statehood".

Mansour said all those who spoke at the Council meeting want the "aggression and onslaught" against the Palestinian people to stop immediately.

"We condemn this aggression against our people. If the Israelis do not listen to this message, the Security Council will be engaged again and again with different options available to us including draft resolution condemning aggression and demanding Israel to stop it," Mansour added.

Israel's envoy to the UN Ron Prosor said the crisis started with the anti-tank missiles launched by Hamas in Israeli territory.

He said Gaza has been turned into a "dump of ammunition with weapons from Iran, Libya, Sudan," which are launched against Israeli civilians "day in day out".

"This unacceptable. Every nation has the right to defend its citizens. Under a barrage of terrorist activities, more than 86 rockets have landed in major cities of Israel.

"No country would tolerate something like that," he said adding that if Hamas is part of the Palestinian statehood, "we are leading in the completely wrong direction".

He said if the two have to move forward, attacks against Israeli civilians have to stop.
Yoshita Singh in United Nations
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