The United Nations Security Council convened Thursday for a special session, at the request of the Arab delegates, to discuss the IDF's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. During the open session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor and the Palestinian delegate Riyad Mansour addressed the assembled diplomats.
In a moment of drama, Israel's ambassador suddenly played the piercing 15-second siren that warns Israelis to run to bomb shelters to escape rocket attacks to highlight the threat his country faces. Ron Prosor told the council that the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, is "intentionally and indiscriminately" threatening 3.5 million Israelis and "no nation, no people and no government could tolerate this."
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour had no props for his appeal to the council "to stop the bleeding" and revive the Palestinians' "dying hopes" for an end to the conflict and peace with freedom. "I speak on behalf of the suffering and grieving Palestinian people, who are enduring yet another barrage of death, destruction, trauma and terror," he said.
UN chief Ban warned that there was a danger that Israel would launch a ground operation in Gaza if Hamas does not end the rocket and missile fire on Israeli territory.
"It is more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to peace and a cease-fire," said Mr. Ban reiterated his "calls for both sides to show the maximum restraint. "
"It is unacceptable for citizens on both sides to permanently live in fear of the next aerial attack," Ban said.
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The U.N. chief said the threat of an Israeli ground offensive and "an all-out escalation" is preventable only if Hamas stops firing rockets and mortars into Israel.
The secretary-general, who is engaged in an intense round of global diplomacy to try to end the conflict, called for "bold thinking and creative ideas" and urged the world to accelerate efforts to immediately end the violence.
"Now is not a time for further incitement or vengeance," Ban said. "Any further spiral of violence could have alarming unforeseen consequences," he warned.
Ban again condemned Hamas and Islamic Jihad for launching a barrage of more than 550 rockets and mortars into Israel -- but in a clear message to Israel he also said "the excessive use of force and endangering of civilian lives are also intolerable."
He noted that 58 Palestinians, mainly civilians, are reported to have been killed and 339 injured, while Israeli attacks have destroyed or damaged some 150 homes and displaced 900 people.
"Once again, Palestinian civilians are caught between Hamas' irresponsibility and Israel's tough response," Ban said.
He said he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abb
Also on Thursday, the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on the Security Council of the UN to "stop the Israeli aggression" in the band Gaza, which killed more than 80 Palestinians.
This call was made after a meeting of the Executive Committee of the OIC in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, while the Security Council session in New York discussed the escalation between the Israeli army and Hamas in Gaza.
In a statement, the OIC states have appointed a ministerial committee from among its 57 member countries to conduct international contacts in order to persuade others to "stop Israeli aggression" against the Palestinians.
The pan-Islamic organization has also decided to undertake diplomatic efforts in Geneva to convene an urgent meeting of the UN Council for Human Rights and get the formation of "an international commission of inquiry into the crimes of Israel and its violations of the rights of Palestinians."