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UN Security Council meet ends with no agreement on Gaza violence

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Gaza, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at United Nations headquarters.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Israel's UN envoy plays recording of rocket alert sirens wailing, rejects Israel to blame for latest flare-up

A closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday ended with no agreement on how to address days of significantly escalated violence in the Gaza Strip after it ended in a fragile ceasefire, diplomats said.

Kuwait, which represents Arab countries at the council, and Bolivia requested the meeting following the worst flare-up in Gaza since the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon rejected that Israel shouldered any blame for the three-day escalation, which saw Hamas militants fire over 460 rockets into Israeli territory targeting civilians living in communities adjacent to the enclave.

“There is no such thing as both sides,” Danon told reporters at UN headquarters in New York, demanding that the council condemn only Hamas “for its aggressive assault on civilians.”

During the meeting, Danon played security council members a recording of the air raid sirens which sounded nearly constantly in border communities, where a number of rockets scored direct hits on houses and other buildings killing one person and injuring scores more.

“Every time Hamas fires a rocket, children at school, adults at work, families across Israel hear this,” he said before playing a recording of a wailing siren.

GIL COHEN-MAGEN (AFP)

Asked about a botched Israeli special forces operation inside the Gaza Strip that sparked the latest round of fighting after it turned deadly and prompted Hamas to vow revenge, Danon said that his country “take[s] action to protect our people and we will continue to do that.”

Addressing reporters after the 50-minute meeting, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the council was "paralyzed" and had "failed to shoulder its responsibility" to take action to end the violence.

"There is one country that is not allowing discussion at the council," Mansour told reporters, in a reference to the United States, which has taken a pro-Israeli stance under President Donald Trump.

There was no statement from the council on the crisis. Such statements are agreed by consensus by all 15 council members.

Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said the majority of council members were of the view that the top UN body "should do something" and some suggested a visit to the region, but no decision was taken.

Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued a joint statement earlier Tuesday announcing an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel and vowed to abide by the truce as long as Israel did the same.

GIL COHEN-MAGEN (AFP)

After more than six hours of deliberations, Israel’s security cabinet unanimously agreed to a ceasefire, despite reports of opposition from a handful of lawmakers including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The ceasefire was met with starkly different reactions on each side of the border, with Palestinians across Gaza celebrating a victorious “resistance” while hundreds of Israelis demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government in the city of Sderot, accusing it of failing to protect them.

One man was killed in the rocket assault on Israel, while seven Palestinians were killed in retaliatory strikes on hundreds of militant sites across Gaza, said by the Israeli army to be “key assets” of Hamas's.

Two of the deceased Palestinians were identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group and the third as a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing.

Two others were killed in targeted Israeli strikes, one on a militant involved in launching rockets and another against a group of Gazans seen attempting to breach the border.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and protests and clashes along the Gaza border since March 30 have repeatedly raised fears of a fourth.

See also: 

Analysis: Hamas’s emboldened risk-taking is fueling this escalation

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