Monday, March 12, 2012

Israel, Palestinians call for UN action on Gaza hostilities

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians and Israelis made rival calls Sunday for the UN Security Council to act as Israel hit back with deadly air strikes against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.


Tensions have mounted as the international Quartet on the Middle East -- the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations -- holds its first top-level meeting in six months on Monday.


The deadlock in the Israel-Palestinian peace process will be discussed at the UN headquarters by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton is expected to take part by videoconference.


Israel criticized the international community's "silence" over rocket attacks from Gaza and warned in a letter to the Security Council that it would take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians against the renewed barrage.


The Palestinian UN mission said a 12-year-old boy was among 18 people killed in Israeli air attacks since Friday and accused Israel of "crimes of aggression against the Palestinian people."


Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for most of the scores of rocket attacks from Gaza against southern Israel in recent days which have left four wounded, according to Israeli sources.


In response, Israel has staged air attacks on the besieged Palestinian territory, killing at least 18 people, according to medics in Gaza.


"For the sake of security and stability in our region, the Security Council and all responsible members of the international community must immediately and unequivocally condemn and do everything in their power to stop the rocket fire that continues to rain down on Israeli civilians," Israel's deputy UN ambassador Haim Waxman said in the letter.


The envoy said more than 150 rockets had been fired in the previous 48 hours.


Waxman said the rocket assault "proves that the smuggling of advanced weaponry by the Iranian regime into the Gaza Strip continues unabated."


Israel "will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens," Waxman said.


The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the UN Security Council must "act with urgency to address this crisis" accusing Israel of staging an "escalation of deadly violence and terror."


He said women and children were among "dozens" of wounded and the dead also included a farmer killed while working in his field.


Mansour said that if Israel was not held accountable "this will only ensure the bolstering of its impunity and the further escalation of its crimes against the Palestinian people with far-reaching consequences for the future of our people and the prospects for peace and stability to ever be realized."


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Source From Channel News Asia

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