US calls for urgent UN Security Council meeting over Gaza
American Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley condemns attacks out of Gaza at Israel's southern communities, saying Security Council should be 'outraged and respond,' calls to hold Palestinian leadership 'accountable'; Israel says not looking for escalation but warns Hamas it would retaliate if needed.
The United States has condemned the attacks out of Gaza and called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in the wake of Palestinian rocket fire on Israel fired at Israel Tuesday.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Security Council "should be outraged and respond."
The rocket and mortar firings from the Gaza Strip were claimed by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, prompting Israel to respond with air strikes on bases of the terrorist Palestinian groups.
It was the worst flareup since the 2014 war between Israel in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
"Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten," US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they're allowing to happen in Gaza."
The United States circulated a draft statement calling on the council to condemn "in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza" toward Israel, according to a copy of the text seen by AFP.
The council will hear a report from UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov during the meeting scheduled for 3pm (7pm GMT) Wednesday.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon the planned meeting was a "positive step. But the Council's members must take serious action, and not make do with words."
He called on the Security Council to "strongly condemn Hamas and hold the terrorist organization accountable for these latest attacks in order to restore calmness and protect the citizens on both sides of the fence."
He further demanded the Council "to officially recognize Hamas as a terror group."
"For weeks we've warned that the violent rioting along the Gaza border—including planting explosives along the fence and live fire at our security forces—were not a s spontaneous protest, but a violent coordinated attack against Israel," Danon elaborated.
"The dozens of rockets and mortars fired at Israel leave no doubt about the intentions of those who have incited, encouraged and went as far as paying for those ongoing riots," the Israeli ambassador went on say.
The IDF has said it was not seeking an escalation, but warned Hamas—with whom it has fought three wars since 2008—to rein in its fighters. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in the exchange of fire.
Islamic Jihad announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Israel.
The confrontation followed weeks of deadly demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.
The US-drafted council statement would demand that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups "cease all violent activity and provocative actions, including along the boundary fence, and cease putting civilians at risk through their actions."
The council has been divided over the violence in Gaza and it was unclear whether the US-proposed statement would win full backing. Security Council statements are adopted by consensus by all 15 members.
Separately, council diplomats are negotiating a draft resolution, put forward by Kuwait, that calls for an "international protection mission" to be deployed for the Palestinians.
Diplomats said the United States is likely to use its veto to block adoption of that measure, but Kuwait is hoping to win backing from the 14 other council members to highlight Washington's isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Associated Press contributed to the article.