UN Security Council holds emergency meeting over Gaza fighting

Palestinian ambassador asks ‘when will enough be enough’ as ​​council members express concern over recent violence.

The UN Security Council has held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Gaza, with many members expressing concern over a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad following three days of Israeli airstrikes.

Speaking via video at the start of the meeting, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wensland warned: “The ceasefire is fragile. Any resumption of hostilities will only have disastrous consequences for the Palestinians and Israelis and will not make any political progress on important issues. “

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia stressed that the council was “deeply concerned by this turn of events, which could lead to the resumption of a full-blown military conflict and further worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

At least 44 Palestinians – about half of them civilians, including 15 children – were killed after Israel began shelling Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza on Friday. Hundreds of people in the area have been injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The armed group fired thousands of rockets in response, but most were intercepted or blown up. Israeli emergency services said three people were wounded by shrapnel and 31 suffered minor injuries.

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night, but both sides have reserved the right to retaliate if the ceasefire is breached.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield leaves the room at the end of a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East and Palestine. [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

Venesland said a UN assessment of the violence was ongoing, noting that “some 20 percent” of the estimated 1,100 rockets fired by armed Palestinian groups fell into the Gaza Strip.

It was the worst fighting in Gaza since last year’s 11-day war in which at least 250 people were killed.

Ahead of the meeting, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on the council to hold Islamic Jihad to “full responsibility”.

“There should be one result and one consequence for condemnation [Islamic Jihad] For its twin war crimes while placing the entire responsibility for the killing of innocent Palestinians on the shoulders of the radical terrorist group,” he said at a press conference.

“They fire rockets at Israeli civilians while using Gazan as human shields. This is a double war crime,” he said.

US UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield supported “Israel’s right to defend its people against terrorist threats”.

“This council should be able to come together and reject unconditionally the terrorism of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose reckless actions put the lives of civilians on both sides at risk,” she said.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour condemned Israel’s “unwarranted aggression”.

“Are you ready to say enough is enough? As the supreme authority responsible for maintaining international peace and security? he demanded. “How many more children do we have to bury until someone says enough is enough?”

The Security Council meeting was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

No statement is expected after the closed-door meeting, which will follow open discussions, several diplomatic sources told the AFP news agency.

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