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Is the US blocking all attempts to stop Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians?
Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians continue
Israeli missiles continued to slam into the Gaza Strip on Monday after the deadliest day yet in the current fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. At least 42 people were killed in Gaza on Sunday, including children, and several large buildings were destroyed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to “levy a heavy price” against Hamas for launching thousands of rockets at Israel — a barrage that also continued Monday.
As the conflict entered a second week, the Israeli strikes in Gaza were blamed for almost 200 Palestinian deaths as of Monday, including 55 children and 33 women. More than 1,200 have been injured in the assault. The rockets launched from the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants have killed eight people in Israel, including a young boy and a soldier.
People in Gaza have told of their fear. “I was getting ready to die. I had to be at peace with it,” Najla Shawa, a Palestinian humanitarian worker and mother of two, told the BBC.
Describing previous air strikes over the weekend, she said: “People we know [were killed], people we work with… ordinary people, professional people, young and old.”
The Israeli military said more than 50 warplanes conducted a 20-minute attack on the Gaza Strip shortly before dawn on Monday.
They struck 35 “terror targets” and destroyed more than 15km (9.3 miles) of an underground tunnel network belonging to Hamas, it added.
The military also said it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders. Israeli soldiers also fired artillery from positions near the Gaza border.
But Israel’s fighter jets continue to obliterate buildings in neighborhoods that are densely packed with civilians, too.
Video showed a six-year-old Palestinian girl named Suzy being pulled from the rubble of what was her home on Sunday after she was trapped for seven hours. Her mother and four siblings were killed in the Israeli strike.
Palestinian officials in Gaza, meanwhile, said the overnight strikes had caused widespread power cuts and damaged hundreds of homes and other buildings.
“Slept for 3 hours – we are physically safe but had one of the [most] difficult nights,” one resident wrote on Twitter.
The overall death toll in the territory now stands at 198, including 58 children and 34 women, with 1,230 injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says more than 130 militants are among the dead – but Hamas has not recognised this.
UN security council calls emergency meeting
UN Security Council (UNSC)’s open debate on the tensions between Israel and Palestine amid the former’s attacks in Gaza ended with no concrete outcome.
The virtual meeting, joined by Israeli and Palestinian officials, was requested by China, Norway, and Tunisia.
In his address, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki described Israeli attacks on occupied territories of Palestine as “war crimes” and urged the UNSC to impose sanctions and arms embargo on Tel Aviv.
“Israel is the armed thief who has entered our house and is terrorizing our family, it destroys our homes, oppresses our people, generation after generation,” said Maliki.
Permanent Representative of Israel to UN Gilad Erdan blamed Hamas for the violence and accused the group of “carrying out its terror attacks”. “We will take all steps necessary to defend our people,” said Erdan, calling for the Council to condemn Hamas.
During his address, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israel and Palestine to end the “senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror, and destruction” and return to negotiations for a two-state solution to the conflict.
“The current hostilities are utterly appalling. This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction, and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace,” said Guterres.
In her speech, US Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated the call for all parties to ensure the protection of civilians, and to respect international humanitarian law. “The current cycle of violence must end,” she said.
“The United States has been working tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try to bring an end to this conflict,” she added.
UK Permanent Representative to UN Barbara Woodward said ongoing violence across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is deeply concerning and it must stop.
“I repeat my prime minister’s call that both sides step back from the brink and show restraint. This cycle of violence must end,” said Woodward.
“The UK remains committed to the two-state solution as the best way to permanently end the occupation and bring peace and stability to the region,” she added.
French representative Nicolas de Riviere urged the Security Council to immediately act to halt the violence in Palestine and Israel.
“This Council must unite to launch a unanimous call for a swift cessation of hostilities. This is the only priority today. And it is our collective responsibility,” said de Riviere.
“The real solution is to bring Israel to halt its policy of settlement in the Palestinian territories,” said the French envoy.
US blocking all attempts to reach a ceasefire
This third session of the top UN body this week came after the US’s two moves to block a joint statement that would condemn Israel for the violence and call for a cease-fire. The US is therefore blocking any step towards the international community brokering a ceasefire.
The latest round of inaction also comes as US President Joe Biden has given no signs of plans to step up public pressure on Israel, instead repeatedly stressing Israel’s right to defend itself.
Critics, including members of Biden’s party, have accused the administration of whitewashing Israeli strikes, which have killed at least 198 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than 1,000 others.
In a phone call with Netanyahu on Saturday, Biden focused on civilian deaths from Hamas rockets. A White House readout of the call made no mention of the US urging Israel to join in a ceasefire that countries in the Middle East were pushing.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the US to “adjust” its position on Israel-Palestine tensions.
He said because of the obstruction of the US, the Security Council has not been able to speak with one voice on Palestine.
“We call upon the US to shoulder its responsibilities, taking adjust position,” said the Chinese top diplomat.