After Three Hour Halt for Aid, Gaza Massacre Continues; UNSC’s Credibility in Question

Posted: 7 January 2009 by Editors in International Affairs, Palestine-Israel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

al Jazeera:

Violence has escalated again in Gaza after Israel temporarily halted attacks in Gaza City in the north of the strip for three hours as a “humanitarian respite”.

In the latest incident, an Israeli air raid on a car in Beit Lahia, near Gaza’s northern border with Israel, killed three children and their father, who was described as a civilian by medical workers in the besieged strip.

The Israeli security cabinet, meanwhile, decided to postpone a vote on expanding its war in Gaza.

The third phase of its military campaign would entail moving deeper into populated area and risks much higher casualties, both for Israeli forces and for Palestinian civilians.

At least 697 Palestinians have died in Gaza since Israel began its assault on December 27, and that number continues to climb. About 3,085 people have also been wounded.

Seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the same period.

Israel is facing mounting pressure to agree a ceasefire after an attack on a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) in the northern town of Jabaliya on Tuesday left 43 Palestinians dead and around 100 wounded.

Doctors said all the dead were either people sheltering in the school or residents of the nearby Jabalya refugee camp.

Around 15,000 Palestinians have had to flee the fighting so far, but have found few safe havens, as Israel and Egypt continue to largely keep border crossings shut.

Criticism of Israel’s attacks have been one-sided. The UN and Arab League have condemned the attacks. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called the attacks a “holocaust” and yesterday expelled Israel’s ambassador in Caracas. A Norweigan doctor has accused Israel of targeting civilians as sixty of the dead are of the same family and were told by Israel to stay in the house where they were keeping refuge before being killed.

Israel agrees “on the principles” of a cease-fire after the UN met for an emergency meeting last night:

A cease-fire initiative Tuesday to halt the increasingly bloody Israeli offensive in Hamas-rule Gaza won support from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on rival sides to follow up on the proposal.

At Tuesday’s four hour council meeting, virtually every Arab speaker denounced the Security Council’s failure to adopt a legally binding resolution to stop the Israeli offensive and demand a durable cease-fire.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the council’s “deafening silence” placed “a big question mark” over its credibility “and the entire system of international security.”

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the Egyptian and French presidents launched their initiative, which the league’s 22 members support, because of the council’s procrastination.

“We do not see any contradiction between that initiative and the work of the Security Council,” he said. “In fact, they both complement each other … since our objective is the same.”

The Security Council scheduled another meeting Wednesday morning….

The Egyptian president said the Israelis and Palestinians should also be willing to discuss border security and other issues that led to the conflict with the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers which includes the U.N., the U.S., the European Union and Russia.

From our YouTube playlist, “Israel Attacks Gaza” – Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham (10:59):

US Secy. of St. Condoleezza Rice said the US and Israel need more details of the Egypt-France proposal and is “pleased with the initiative”.

The New York Times calls Israel’s ambiguity a “learned lesson” from its 2006 war with Lebanon.

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