UNSC urges halt to Gaza violence

Libya, on behalf of the Arab Group of nations at the UN, called the late night council meeting.

unsc sanctions 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
unsc sanctions 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The UN Security Council early Sunday expressed serious concern at the escalating situation in Gaza and called on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately halt all violence. After more than four hours of emergency consultations that began Saturday night, the UN's most powerful body issued a statement that also urged the restoration of a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers. The Security Council also called for the opening of border crossings into Gaza "to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza" and ensure a continuous supply of food and fuel as well as medical treatment. Libya, on behalf of the Arab Group of nations at the UN, called the late night council meeting after Israeli warplanes rained more than 100 tons of bombs on security sites in Gaza on Saturday and early Sunday, killing at least 270 people. Israel said the bombardment - one of the Mideast's bloodiest assaults in decades - was aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Gaza that have traumatized southern Israel. The statement, agreed to by all 15 council members including Libya, did not specifically mention either the Israeli bombing or the rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists. Instead, council members "called for an immediate halt to all violence" and "called on the parties to stop immediately all military activities." Libyan diplomats had pressed for an open council meeting but some council members were reluctant because of concerns of inflaming the situation. The final text of the statement, drafted by Russia, dropped initial references to numerous Palestinian deaths, including among civilians. The statement reflects the views of the UN's most powerful body. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, told reporters before the council began its closed-door consultations that the council should demand an immediate halt to the bombings. "This collective punishment is inhumane, immoral and should be stopped immediately," he said. "There is no justification for punishing 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza because of a few." The top UN human rights official said Sunday afternoon that Israel's military response to the firing of rockets at its territory by Palestinian terrorists is "disproportionate." UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she is distressed at the enormous loss of life in Gaza and calls on Israel to prevent collective punishment and the targeting of civilians. Pillay said in a statement Sunday that both sides should halt the violence and promptly take steps to end human suffering in Gaza by allowing aid supplies and independent monitors to enter the Palestinian territory.