UNSC must condemn Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terror group, US says

United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield recalled that her country and many other nations had already designated Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a terror group, and urged the UN to do the same.

 United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the security council meeting due to the situation in Middle East and Palestine, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, US, August 8, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/EDUARDO MUNOZ)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the security council meeting due to the situation in Middle East and Palestine, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, US, August 8, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/EDUARDO MUNOZ)

The UN Security Council must condemn Islamic Jihad as a terror group because it is an Iranian proxy group that has persistently attacked innocent civilians, United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

“This council should be able to come together and unconditionally repudiate the terrorism of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose reckless actions have put the lives of civilians, on both sides, at risk,” the ambassador told the UNSC during a special emergency meeting it held on the Gaza violence over the weekend between the IDF and the terrorist group.

“Their actions must be condemned by all countries in no uncertain terms,” she said. “And no country should be expected to tolerate or passively accept such brazen attacks on its civilians.”

The meeting was held even though an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, created with the help of the UN, the US and Qatar, had been in effect since late Sunday night. 

Thomas-Greenfield recalled that her country and many other nations had already designated Islamic Jihad as a terror group.

 Members of Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement at a gathering for Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour, who was killed on the first day of ''Operation Breaking Dawn'', in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 8, 2022. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90) Members of Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement at a gathering for Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour, who was killed on the first day of ''Operation Breaking Dawn'', in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 8, 2022. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

"It is also an Iranian proxy group, which has conducted attacks against innocent civilians for years,” she said. “It is telling that Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders were in Tehran the last several days while the people they claim to be protecting were left in harm’s way. I would also note that it was the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not Israel, that held up agreement on a ceasefire designated to save lives and resumed shipments into Gaza, callously prolonging these hostilities.”

Thomas-Greenfield also commended the efforts of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, saying his efforts "ultimately prevented further casualties and suffering."

She added that she fully supports “Israel’s right to defend its people against terrorist threats, including from rocket fire aimed at civilians or without regard to them.”

"No country should be expected to tolerate or passively accept such brazen attacks on its civilians."

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the UN

Many of the countries that spoke condemned Israel’s actions against Islamic Jihad in Gaza – including its preemptive strike on Friday, in which the IDF killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jaabari. At issue in particular was the death of 46 Palestinians during the three-day conflict, which the military called Operation Breaking Dawn. The IDF said it specifically targeted Islamic Jihad infrastructure and operatives, 21 of whom were among those who were killed.

Islamic Jihad, in turn, launched 1,100 rockets against Israeli towns and cities, 200 of which landed short into Gaza, killing civilians, including four children.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Israel’s killing of Jabari, as well as its fatal strike against Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour, was comparable to the US’s targeted killing of al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan the previous week. 

Thomas-Greenfield said the US was “deeply saddened by reports of civilian casualties,” adding that their deaths should be “thoroughly investigated.”

She cautioned, however, against jumping to conclusions.

"Just one example: Israel was originally blamed for an attack that inflicted civilian casualties in Jabaliya refugee camp. It now appears to have been caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket," she said. "So let us be sure to follow the facts and see where they lead us."

British Ambassador to the UN James Kariuki also spoke strongly in defense of Israel.

“We strongly condemn the firing of over 1,100 rockets at civilians by Islamic Jihad, and the ongoing campaign of terror attacks by the group, which has resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, Israelis and Palestinians alike,” he said. “As my foreign secretary has been clear, the UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself in the face of such terrorism and violence.”

French Deputy Ambassador Nathalie Broadhurst said her country “deplored” the loss of Palestinian civilian lives, particularly the child fatalities.

“We also condemn the firing of rockets into Israeli territory and reiterate our unwavering commitment to the security of Israel,” she said.

Irish Deputy Ambassador Cait Moran, however, said both the Israeli and Palestinian attacks on civilians were “unacceptable.”

“The impact on children, in an already difficult humanitarian situation, is especially worrying,” she said.

“Under international humanitarian law, indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects are prohibited, and constant care must be taken to spare them,” Moran said. “Accountability must be ensured for all attacks against civilians.”

She noted that, in particular, “civilians in the Gaza Strip are bearing the brunt of the military escalation, especially the children of Gaza, many of whom have endured four bombardments in their short lives. 800,000 children out of one million in Gaza are in need of psychosocial support and care.”

Like many council members, Moran called for a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been frozen for the last eight years.

“This ceasefire must not become a pause between cycles of violence,” she said. “What is needed is genuine efforts to revive a political engagement between the parties. There can be no military solution to a political conflict.”

Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya charged that Israel had provoked the latest round of violence.

Many of those who spoke called for a two-state resolution based on the pre-1967 lines as the best option to end Israeli-Palestinian violence, including in Gaza.