UN Security Council calls for ceasefire as Gaza toll rises to 501

This July 20, 2014, Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the worsening situation in Gaza.   | Photo Credit: John Minchillo

The UN Security Council on Monday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, even as UN chief Ban Ki-moon met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar in the first leg of his Middle East tour which aims to end the escalating conflict that has killed 501 Palestinians and 20 Israelis.

The powerful 15-nation Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday and expressed serious concern about the escalation of violence in and around Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll rose to 501 after bodies of 16 people who were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in the south of the Gaza Strip were found this morning.

Israel has said 18 soldiers have been killed since the ground operation began last week, the largest number of Israeli soldiers killed in combat since the 2006 Lebanon war.

“The members of the Security Council express serious concern about the growing numbers of casualties,” said Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana, whose country holds the 15-member Security Council’s rotating presidency for July.

“The members of the Security Council call for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Hamas,” he said.

The Council also emphasised the need to improve the humanitarian situation, including thorough humanitarian pauses, such as the five-hour truce brokered last week by the Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry.

The emergency UNSC meeting came even as Mr. Ban is in the region as part of a visit aimed at expressing solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and help bringing about a ceasefire. He met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

“As I travel the region, I will continue to press for an (immediate) ceasefire - an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Mr. Ban said earlier at a press conference along with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya.

He reiterated his demand that all sides respect international humanitarian law and stop the ongoing violence.

“While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighborhood in Gaza,” Mr. Ban said.

“I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians,” he added.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 9:07:48 AM |

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