The United Nations Security Council must condemn Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on Tuesday.
“I ask you all today to join the United Nations in condemning the continued indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israel,” Mladenov said.
He spoke at the monthly Security Council briefing in New York on the situation in the Middle East, which typically devotes most of its time to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the debate, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon had asked the Security Council to condemn Monday rocket fire from Gaza, that destroyed a home in central Israel, injuring all seven members of the family that lived inside it. Two of the family members, Robert and Susan Wolf, immigrated to Israel from Great Britain.
The rocket landed in Moshav Mishmeret, where Danon lives. “My house is only a few hundred feet away” from where the rocket landed, he said.
“Imagine if a rocket was fired at your home, where you raise your kids,” the ambassador said.
He asked the UNSC to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“The international community must unequivocally condemn Hamas and recognize it as a terrorist organization,” said Danon. “We will not accept a reality in which our children become targets of Hamas,” he explained.
“The rocket was fired from a civilian area in Rafah, and sent to a civilian area in Israel. From start to finish, Hamas placed innocent people in the line of fire, making it guilty of a double war crime,” Danon said.
Hamas fires 1,000 rockets at Israel a year to destroy the Jewish state and to distract the world’s attention from the organization’s oppression of Palestinians in Gaza, Danon said.
“For the UN, all people deserve human rights except for the people of Israel,” Danon said.
The debate occurred as Hamas and Israel appeared to be on the brink of a fourth war. Mladenov’s described to the council how the IDF on Monday launched a counter attack, bombing more than 40 Hamas targets. Palestinians, in turn, launched more than 130 rockets at southern Israel.
“A new conflict will be devastating for the Palestinian people. It will have consequences for Israelis who live in the vicinity of the Gaza perimeter, and it is likely to have regional repercussions.
“This is why I ask you all today to join the United Nations in condemning the continued indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israel.
“Such acts of provocation only dramatically increase the risk of escalation, and ultimately damage our collective efforts to support the people of Gaza and intra-Palestinian reconciliation. We must also call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains extremely tense,” he said.
Mladenov also condemned the Hamas crackdown on Palestinian protests against the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions in Gaza.
“Although the protests were generally nonviolent, Hamas security personnel violently dispersed participants and many, including women, children, journalists and human rights activists, were beaten and hospitalized,’ he said.
Scores of homes were raided and over 1,000 people, including children were arrested, he said.
During the public debate, at least nine countries of the 15 Security Council members condemned the rocket attacks. This included: the United States, South Africa, Poland, Belgium, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, France and Peru.
But council members also had harsh words for Israel, including what they termed its disproportionate use of force in response to the Gaza border protests.
They spoke in defense of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines, and subtly warned the Trump administration that the peace plan it intends to roll out shortly must not deviate from that parameter.
“No one will be able to solve the Middle East Peace problem alone,” the Russian envoy said.
German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen asked both Danon and the Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour to throw away their speeches and tell the council pragmatically how they intend to comply with UN demands.
Heusgen asked Israel how it planned to halt settlement construction and to implement UNSC Resolution 2334, which calls for a halt to such activity.
He asked Mansour how the Palestinian Authority planned to halt the rocket attacks.
Neither Mansour or Danon threw away their speeches. Mansour instead called on the Security Council to insist that Israel stop ignoring its resolutions and to prevent the US from shielding Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has persistently asked the UN Security Council to avert the outbreak of another cycle of violence in Gaza.
“The council has been silenced by the obstruction of a permanent member, which has in turn emboldened Israel the occupying power to persist with total impunity in its systemic acts of violent aggression, incitement, provocation and collective punishment against the Palestinian people and rabid colonization and de facto annexation of our land,” Mansour said.
“Today again we find ourselves at the edge of the precipice; fearing for the lives of our people as Israeli officials ratchet up their threats of war against the besieged Gaza Strip,” Mansour said.
“Once again Israeli occupying forces have taken to the skies, dropping bombs and missiles on our defenseless civilian population, terrorizing and traumatizing them in a blatant act of aggression and collective punishment in grave breach of international law,” he said.
Mansour accused Israeli leaders and politicians of inciting violence in Gaza as part of their electoral campaigns in advance of the country’s April 9 general elections.
They want to prove “their might and bravado and to gain a few votes” by threatening to “bomb Palestinian back to the stone age and to continue vying with each other for who will spill more Palestinian blood,” Mansour said.
At the end of meeting, the council adjourned for a closed door consultations.
The five EU member states of the council – Germany, France, Belgium, Britain and Poland – spoke to the media on the sidelines of the meeting to condemn the US recognition of Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria.
“Annexations of territory by force is prohibited under international law. Any declaration of a unilateral border change goes against the foundation of the rules based international order and the UN charter. We raise our strong concerns about broader consequences of recognizing illegal annexation and also about the broader regional consequences,” the member states said. Reuters contributed to this report.
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