Israel’s U.N. ambassador demanded Sunday that the Security Council condemn what he said are Hamas war crimes against Israeli citizens.
“Israel has one sole demand: Hamas’s war crimes must be unequivocally condemned,” Gilad Erdan told reporters. “This unimaginable atrocity must be condemned. Israel must be given steadfast support to defend ourselves.”
He spoke ahead of a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation council, convened in the aftermath of a brutal surprise multi-prong attack Saturday morning by Hamas fighters on Israeli towns and cities. Hundreds of Israelis were killed, injured and kidnapped by the terrorist group in what Ambassador Erdan said is his country’s “9/11” – a reference to the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people.
“They will not stop until they murder every single one of us,” Erdan said of Hamas, which has vowed the destruction of Israel. “This is precisely why this atrocity is Israel’s 9/11. From now, nothing will be as it was. I promise you.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government responded quickly to the attack that its intelligence and security agencies failed to prevent. He has said the country is entering a long war.
Israeli airstrikes targeted buildings in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and several hundred Palestinians were reported killed in the first 24 hours of retaliation.
The U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said Sunday that one of its schools in Gaza that is sheltering more than 225 displaced people was bombed. No one was injured, but the building was severely damaged.
UNRWA said nearly 74,000 displaced people are in 64 shelters it runs, with numbers likely to increase as civilian areas are hit.
The U.S. representative at the meeting, Ambassador Robert Wood, told reporters after the council session that the situation in Israel is still fluid and dangerous.
“We are working hard, as I know other countries in the region are, to try to prevent this conflict from spreading,” he said.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the Palestinian Authority has requested an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers later this week in Cairo.
He said the Palestinian people have endured one deadly year after another under Israeli occupation.
“Israel cannot wage a full-scale war on a nation, its people, its land, its holy sites, and expect peace in exchange,” he told reporters.
But he urged a different path, one where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed.
“Peace will save lives, because it is the only way forward,” Mansour said.
The council did not release a formal statement after the meeting. Diplomats said none was put forward. They said during the meeting most council members expressed condemnation for Hamas’ attacks, the need for the unconditional release of hostages held by Hamas, and the need for de-escalation and a cease-fire.