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February 26, 2013

UN Official Condemns Rocket Attack on Israel

by Larry Freund

A senior United Nations official has condemned a Tuesday rocket attack which Israel alleges came from the Gaza Strip, and he called on Israel to demonstrate maximum restraint.  Israel says a single rocket landed outside the city of Ashkelon, causing no injuries.

The U.N. Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the U.N. Security Council there is no justification for rocket attacks, which he said not only target innocent civilians but risk triggering a renewed spiral of violence.

A Palestinian militant group has claimed it fired the rocket as a response to what it terms the assassination of prisoner Arafat Jaradat.  But the Hamas government in Gaza accused Israel of fabricating the rocket incident.

The 30-year-old Jaradat died in Israeli custody, triggering Palestinian demonstrations and clashes in the West Bank and accusations that Jaradat was tortured.  Israel says Jaradat was not beaten during his interrogation and that he died of a heart attack.

In his remarks to the Security Council, Feltman said the U.N. continues to condemn all indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.

“It is important for both sides to maintain their commitment to the cease-fire brokered in November 2012, and it is the responsibility of the de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip to prevent any recurrence of today’s attack," he said. "Until today’s Palestinian rocket attack, this was the longest period without projectiles fired from Gaza in recent years, and both sides should work to consolidate the calm that prevailed before today.”

Feltman called for an independent and transparent investigation by Israeli authorities into the circumstances surrounding Jaradat’s death. Of particular concern, he added, is the worsening health of four other Palestinian prisoners who are on a hunger strike.

​Feltman also says new life must be injected into the dormant Middle East peace process.

“This is a time for renewed impetus and political will to end the conflict and the occupation that has already scarred the lives of far too many Israelis and Palestinians for far too long," he said."We need to act now, first and foremost for the sake of the younger generations. They deserve a future of peace.”

Feltman called on the Security Council to act decisively on fostering Mideast peace.