UN calls for Israel-Gaza ceasefire

July 12, 2014

The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as Palestinian deaths continue to mount.

All 15 members approved a statement calling for de-escalation, the “restoration of calm” and a resumption of peace talks.

At least 133 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its operation five days ago, Palestinian sources say.

Israel says it has been hit by about 90 rockets on Saturday, suffering damage.

It is the first time since Israel’s offensive began that the UN Security Council has issued a statement, with members previously divided on their response.

The problem has been finding a form of words that Arab nations, represented on the Security Council by Jordan, find meaningful but which the US, Israel’s close ally, could also agree with, the BBC’s Nick Bryant reports from the UN.

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Text of UN Security Council statement

The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.

The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire.

The Security Council members further called for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

The Security Council members also expressed their support for the resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution.

Israel has vowed to press on with its campaign until rocket attacks stop.

It says it is targeting militants and militant facilities, including the homes of senior operatives. “Dozens of terrorists” are among those killed, it says.

However, the UN estimated has estimated that 77% of the people killed in Gaza were civilians.

Mark Regev: “Hamas bears primary responsibility for civilian casualties in Gaza”

In the latest violence

  • Rockets launched from Gaza landed in the West Bank, near Hebron and Bethlehem, but caused no injuries and minor damage
  • Two nephews of Hamas ex-PM Ismail Haniyeh were among a group of six men killed in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City, Palestinian medics said
  • A large fire broke out in a UN humanitarian relief compound in the east of Gaza City. Israel said it was caused by Hamas rockets falling short, though this has not been confirmed
  • Israel hit a residential home for disabled people in Beit Lahiya, Palestinian officials said. Two female residents were killed and four other people seriously injured, they said. Israel did not comment
  • Six Palestinians were killed in three separate attacks in northern and central Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said

‘No knockout’

Israel is deploying an eighth “Iron Dome” anti-missile battery as it mobilises thousands of army reservists for a possible land operation inside Gaza.

A senior military official said Israel estimated Hamas still had thousands of rockets in its arsenal and it would take Israel more time to eliminate the threat to its civilians.

“There is no knockout,” he told the Associated Press news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is more complicated.”

A spokesman for Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, said it would not “beg for calm” and would “continue to defend” its people.

“Once we are offered a genuine, coherent and serious proposal, we will look into it,” he added, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Vienna talks

In Bethlehem, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers. Other protests in support of Palestinians were held in Libya and Tunisia, and France.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he will discuss with his US, French and German counterparts the need for a ceasefire when they meet on Sunday.

“It is clear that we need urgent, concerted international action to secure a ceasefire, as was the case in 2012,” he said.

Rocket fire and air strikes increased after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June, which Israel blamed on Hamas and which led to a crackdown on the group in the West Bank. Hamas denied being behind the killings.

Tensions rose further after the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem on 2 July, after which six suspects were arrested.

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