Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Sunday accused Israel of committing “war crimes” one week offensive on Gaza as he urged international pressure at a session of the United Nations Security Council.
“Some may not want to use these words – war crimes and crimes against humanity – but they know they are true,” al-Maliki said in the virtual session on the crisis on Sunday.
He also renewed the accusation – angrily denounced by Israel – that Tel Aviv is pursuing a “apartheid” policy against the Palestinians.
“Act now to end the assault. Act now so that freedom can prevail – not apartheid, ”he told the Security Council.
Since violence broke out At least 192 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip on Monday, including 58 children. More than 1,200 others were injured. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces killed at least 13 Palestinians.
Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children, thousands of missiles fired from Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, many of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.
Al-Maliki – who is part of the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip and fires rockets at Israel – regretted Israel’s death but urged the Security Council to consider the balance of power.
Israel “is an occupying colonial power. Any assessment of the situation that does not take this fundamental fact into account is biased, ”al-Maliki said.
“Israel always says, put yourself in our shoes. But Israel doesn’t wear shoes. He wears military boots.
Israel slams Hamas
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, denounced Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israel as premeditated.
“It was completely premeditated by Hamas in order to gain political power,” Erdan said.
He said Hamas had escalated tensions over internal Palestinian political maneuvering after PA President Mahmoud Abbas delayed a long-awaited election.
When Amer Quneibi, 14, was questioned by Israeli authorities for throwing stones at settlers in Hebron, his family could not be by his side.
– AJWitness (@AJWitness) May 16, 2021
Hamas said its rocket fire at Israel was in response to the repeated lifting by Israeli forces of the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem earlier this month amid high tensions over the movements of strength evict Palestinian families in the city to make way for Israeli settlers.
“Do you really think this property conflict is what prompted Hamas to launch these large-scale attacks against the people of Israel?” Said Erdan.
He thanked the United States, which had delayed the UN session, and called on the world body to condemn Hamas.
“Hamas targets civilians; Israel targets terrorists, ”Erdan said.
“Israel is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties; Hamas is doing everything possible to increase the number of civilian casualties. “
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for his part, called for an immediate ceasefire, saying in his speech to the council that the hostilities between the two sides were “absolutely appalling” and urging them to “allow the mediation efforts to intensify and be successful ”.
The UNSC had met privately twice last week over the escalation of violence, but has so far been unable to agree on a public statement because the United States – a strong ally of Israel – didn’t think it would help, diplomats said.
China regretted that the United States blocked a UNSC statement on Israeli-Palestinian violence as it called for more international efforts to stop the bloodshed.
“We call on the United States to shoulder its responsibilities, take a just stance and, together with most of the international community, support the Security Council to improve the situation,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired Sunday’s meeting as chairman of the Chinese Council. for May.
The United States told the UNSC that it has made it clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it is ready to offer its support “if the parties seek a ceasefire.”
“The United States has worked tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try to end this conflict,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the 15-member council.
“Because we believe that Israelis and Palestinians also have the right to live in safety and security.”
UN envoy to the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, urged the international community to “take action now to allow the parties to step back.”
The truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the UN have so far offered no sign of progress.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City razed three buildings and killed at least 42 people on Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest attack in seven days of heavy fighting.
The United States has sent an envoy to the region to try to defuse tensions, but critics say President Joe Biden – who on Saturday called out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Abbas – has underlined -estimated the severity of the crisis.
“This is an area that has traditionally been negotiated by the United States and the UN … but given 70+ years of this issue on the UN agenda, and no progress has been made. been achieved … China is too happy to call the United States here at the UN, ”said Kristen Saloomey, of Al Jazeera, at UN headquarters in New York.
“Unfortunately, at this point, the reality is that there does not appear to be a way forward here in the Security Council.”