US Ambassador Samantha Power took part in a UN Security Council meeting this week regarding the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The group was discussing the situation in the middle east, including the Palestinian question. On Sunday, the group agreed on a statement that called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian case-fire” in the fighting.
A humanitarian cease-fire would allow urgently needed medical and other assistance to be delivered to the region, and comes as Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Ramadan fast. The statement released by council president Rwanda called for both Israel and Hamas to implement the cease-fire “into the Eid period and beyond.”
In spite of these calls for peace, the fighting continued this week, with Palestine reporting more than two dozen people killed as the mortars or rockets struck a hospital, refugee camp, and the center of Gaza City on Tuesday. Al Aqsa TV issued a report stating that Israeli drone strikes killed eight children on Monday when they struck a refugee camp. The children were playing near their homes as parents celebrated Eid al-Fitr.
The UN has become increasingly concerned as many shelters and UN run schools have been hit since the conflict began. On Wednesday, artillery fire struk the Jabalya Elementary Girls School, which was housing more than 3,000 Palestinian refugees. Hospital morgues are full, and injured civilians crowd hospital floors. Humanitarian workers simply cannot keep up with the flood of injured. Amnesty International has stated that if Israel is responsible for the attacks on the school, it could be considered a war crime. UNRWA has shared its coordinates with Israeli army officials more than 17 times.
Even as Hamas placed the blame on Israel, the country likewise placed the blame on Hamas, blaming “Gaza terrorists” for the attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Israeli television saying that the country needs to “be prepared for a protracted campaign in Gaza,” suggesting that the UN calls for cease-fire will be ignored. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister has also stated that the country won’t hesitate to expand its campaign in Gaza.
Israel’s main goal is to destroy the the tunnels that Hamas fighters use to launch attacks and smuggle weapons. More than 150 of those who have been killed in the conflict have been members of armed groups, according to the United Nations, though many civilians have been killed as well. Israel claims that Hamas has encouraged people to stay in their homes, even though Israel has warned more strikes are coming.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the fact that the IDF has dropped thousands of leaflets across the northern Gaza strip warning of more attacks. These leaflets urge residents to leave Gaza City and their homes. This has devastating implications for civilians throughout the area if true.
Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor stated that the situation in the region will not quiet until attacks against Israel stop. “When it is quiet in Israel,” he said, “it will be quiet in Gaza.” On Thursday, CNN reported that the Israeli military issued a statement calling up 16,000 additional reservists to join the fight against Hamas in Gaza. They have also sent a request to the United States for additional ammunition supplies. While US officials have stated Israel needs to do more to protect civilian citizens in the region, they have agreed to resupply several different types of ammunition, including tank rounds, mortar rounds, and 40mm ammunition for grenade launchers