UNSC calls for halt to violence in Gaza

Last Updated: Sunday, December 28, 2008 - 00:00

New York, Dec 28: The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Sunday called for an immediate halt to all violence in Gaza after a day of Israeli air strikes in response to rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants against Israel.
"The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate halt to all violence," said a statement read to reporters by Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica, President of the UNSC.

"The members called on the parties to stop immediately all military activities."

Meanwhile, in an unusually sharp criticism of Israel, the UN General Assembly President Miguel d`Escoto described its deadly air strikes on Gaza Strip as commission of "wanton aggression by a very powerful state" and said the world body needs to take a firm action if it does not want to be "rightly accused of complicity by omission”.

"I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel`s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people," he said.

The violations, the UNGA President said, include collective punishment of the entire 1.5 million people for action of a few militants, targeting civilians and disproportionate military response.

Earlier, Saudi King Abdullah had telephoned US President George W Bush after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Riyadh. According to the Saudi state news agency SPA, King said that major countries must take action to halt Israel`s attacks on Gaza.

In the meantime, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that the King had called Bush, who was preparing to usher in 2009 on his Texas ranch, to discuss "the Middle East" and had declined to offer further details.

But SPA reported that King Abdullah yesterday discussed "the Israeli aggression against Gaza" and the "implications of continuing Israel`s policies of blockade, occupation and torture against the Palestinian people all over the Occupied Territories."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice states that Washington "strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza."

Meanwhile, Brooke Anderson, chief national security spokesperson for Barack Obama, said that the President-elect is "monitoring" the deadly violence in the Gaza strip while he is on vacation in Hawaii. She, however, emphasised that "there is one President at a time," a statement Obama has said often since he was elected on November 04.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, December 28, 2008 - 00:00

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