The United States has condemned the attacks out of Gaza and convened an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council in the wake of Palestinian rocket fire on Israel. The meeting was held on Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking before a session of the United Nations Security Council, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: “Who among us would accept 70 rockets launched into your country? We all know the answer to that. No one would.”
A barrage of rockets was fired at Israeli communities on the Gaza border early Wednesday morning, shortly after Hamas signaled its willingness to enter into a ceasefire. Red Alert alarms were activated through the night in the Eshkol, Sha’ar HaNegev and Sdot Negev regions, and were also activated in Bnei Shimon and Merhavim regions, as well as in the larger cities of Ashkelon and Netivot. Several of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The rocket and mortar firings from the Gaza Strip were claimed by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, prompting Israel to respond with attacks on numerous Hamas terror targets, including rocket and arms manufacturing plants, training camps, storage facilities, military installations, and armament and missile storehouses. It was the worst flare-up since the 2014 war between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
One of the targets was a Hamas terror tunnel that penetrated
deep into Israeli territory and ran under the Kerem Shalom crossing—the only land goods crossing between Israel and Gaza.
The tunnel, described by the IDF as “unique,” stretched some 900 meters (2,950 feet) underground, breaching Egyptian territory before winding back into Israel. The IDF said it was detected while still in its “mining phase,” suggesting that it had yet to become operational.
“Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten,” Ambassador Haley said in a statement. “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.
The council heard a report from U.N. envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov during the meeting, and Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon noted that the planned meeting was a “positive step. But the council’s members must take serious action and not make do with words.”
Danon 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 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.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the situation, “Since yesterday the IDF has strongly retaliated against the firing from the Gaza Strip and has hit dozens of terrorist targets in the severest blow we have landed on them in years.” He continued, “The Hamas regime, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations, inspired by Iran, are responsible for the escalation. I will not detail our plans because I do not want the enemy to know what to expect. But one thing is clear: When they test us, they pay immediately. And if they continue testing us, they will pay dearly.”
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 on Wednesday an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Israel. The confrontation followed weeks of deadly demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.
The U.S.-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 U.S.-proposed statement would win full backing. Security Council statements are adopted by consensus by all 15 members.
By JLNJ Staff and combined sources