Arab bloc urges Security Council censure for Israel's Gaza action

By Shlomo Shamir

Haaretz

Nisan 13, 5766

NEW YORK - Ambassadors to the United Nations from the Arab states convened Monday at the UN's New York headquarters to discuss strategy concerning the escalation of Israeli military strikes against Palestinian targets.

They decided to urge the UN Security Council to take unspecified action against Israel.

"The international community cannot continue to stand idly by while defenseless women, children and men continue to be killed, wounded and maimed," Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour said.

The 15-nation council, "in upholding its duty to maintain international peace and security, should take action," Mansour said in a letter to Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, the Security Council president for April.

Wang told reporters he would consult his council colleagues before deciding on a response to Mansour's request. The meeting is expected to take place Tuesday at the earliest, and will most likely be held Wednesday.

It is unlikely, however, that the council will reach a decision to take action against Israel. The council will most likely issue a presidential declaration regarding the matter, taking into account the recent increase of Qassam rockets launched at Israel.

Mansour said that since last Friday, Israel Defense Forces troops had killed at least 18 Palestinians, including a 6-year-old boy, and had injured many more. Among its recent attacks were three targeted assassinations in Gaza, in which Palestinians were killed by missiles or rockets fired from military aircraft.

On Monday night, an eight-year-old girl was killed when IDF artillery fire struck her home in northern Gaza. Five other people were wounded, including her pregnant mother, who was seriously hurt.

Israel says it reserves the right to conduct extrajudicial killings of Palestinian militants bent on carrying out attacks targeting Israel. It says the action in Gaza is aimed at halting rocket attacks on Israeli territory.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement over the weekend expressing concern about the increasing violence on both sides, including rocket attacks on Israeli targets and Israeli reprisals.