Tue, 22 Jun 2021

Gaza [Palestine] May 17 (ANI):United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Sunday that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were "utterly appalling" and called for an immediate ceasefire.

He said the United Nations is "actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire" and called on them "to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed".

"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," Guterres said during a UN Security Council meet on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of violence in years in Palestine and Israel.

"Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately,"he stressed.

Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered its seventh consecutive day with air raids early on Sunday killing at least 42 Palestinians, wounding dozens more, and flattening at least two residential buildings.

"International pressure to bring an end to the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas militants mounted on Sunday, even as local health officials said an Israeli airstrike in Gaza overnight killed more than two dozen people, the single deadliest attack of the current hostilities," reported by the New York Times.

The dead included women and children, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Rescue workers combed through the rubble of three buildings flattened in the airstrike as the hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians escalated to levels not seen since a 2014 war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no clear end in sight to the violence. "It will take some time," he said.

Palestinian and Israeli diplomats used the meeting as a high-profile forum to vent longstanding grievances, in effect talking past each other with no sign of any softening in an intractable conflict nearly as old as the United Nations itself.

Riad Al Malki, the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, implicitly rebuked the United States and other powers that have defended Israel's right to protect itself from Hamas rocket attacks, asserting that Israel is then "further emboldened to continue to murder entire families in their sleep," New York Times reported.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke after Malki, rejected any attempt to portray the actions of Israel and Hamas as moral equivalents. "Israel uses missiles to protect its children," Erdan said. "Hamas uses children to protect its missiles."Linda Thomas-Greenfield, The United States ambassador to the United Nations, said President Biden had spoken with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had also been engaging with his counterparts in the region. She called on Hamas to stop its rockets barrage against Israel, expressed concerns about intercommunal violence and warned against incitement on both sides.

"The human toll of this past week has been devastating," she said, and added, "it's time to end the cycle of violence."Meannwhile, Netanyahu of Israel vowed late Saturday to continue striking Gaza "until we reach our targets," suggesting a prolonged assault on the coastal territory even as casualties rose on both sides.

Moreover, President Biden conferred with Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, about efforts to broker a cease-fire. While supporting Israel's right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas militants, Biden urged Mr. Netanyahu to protect civilians and journalists.

Over the past week, the 15-member U.N. Security Council met privately at least twice to discuss ways of reducing tensions. But efforts to reach agreement on a statement or to hold an open meeting had faced resistance from the United States, Israel's biggest defender on the council.

Even before Sunday morning's attack, Israeli airstrikes had intensified over the weekend, with an attack on a house in a refugee camp in Gaza that killed 10 members of an extended family, including women and children, and another that destroyed a high-rise that housed media outlets of Al Jazeera.

At least 192 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Gaza, including at least 58 children, according to Palestinian health authorities, and 12 Israelis had died in Hamas rocket attacks. (ANI)

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