UNITED NATIONS —
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will head to the Middle East on Saturday to try to find a way to end the violence between Israel and Hamas militants.
“The secretary-general is prepared to do his part. He will leave for the region tomorrow to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians, and to help them, in coordination with regional and international actors, end the violence and find a way forward,” said U.N. Political Chief Jeffrey Feltman
Ban expressed his alarm on Thursday when Israeli forces launched their ground incursion into Gaza, and Hamas resumed rocket fire into Israel. The U.N. chief said he regretted that despite his repeated urgings to seek calm, an already dangerous conflict had escalated further.
Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour read the names of dozens of Palestinian civilians who have been killed, the majority from Israeli airstrikes. They ranged in age from five months to 80-years-old.
“War crimes, crimes against humanity, state terrorism and systematic human rights violations are being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.”
Mansour said if the Security Council fails to end these violations and protect the Palestinians, they would have no choice but to go to U.N. and other international courts.
The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly said it would consider joining the treaty of the International Criminal Court so it could refer the situation under occupation to the court.
He also called on the council to adopt a resolution condemning Israel’s military action in Gaza, demand its immediate end and protect the Palestinian people.
Ambassador Ron Prosor said Israel was left with no choice but to launch its incursion into Gaza.
“A few hours ago, the Israel Defense Forces entered Gaza to restore a sustained quiet to the people of Israel while degrading Hamas's terror capabilities," Prosor said. "We did everything in our power to avoid this. Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu made the courageous decision to accept every cease-fire offered - even as the people of Israel were under attack. But Hamas rejected every overture to restore the quiet.”
Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas and the dangerous escalation of hostilities and their impact on civilians on both sides.
She said President Barack Obama spoke with Netanyahu Friday morning to reaffirm U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself. She said Washington also supports Egypt’s cease-fire proposal and Secretary of State John Kerry is ready to return to the region following more consultations in order to try to bring it about.