01/09/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE

United Nations votes for truce but bombs and rockets continue in Gaza

by Joshua Lapide
Fourteen of the council's 15 members vote in favour of a Security Council resolution. United States abstains. Text calls for a ceasefire, free passage for humanitarian aid, and an Israeli pullout. It also condemns all acts of terrorism and violence against civilians and calls for greater monitoring of arms and ammunition smuggling into the Strip. The number of dead is growing among Palestinians (750) and Israelis (16). UNRWA stops relief operations after one of its drivers is killed. The International Red Cross accuses Israel of not helping the wounded.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United Nations Security Council has voted in favour of an “immediate, durable” ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces; it also “condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.” Meanwhile Israeli plains carried out at least 30 raids overnight killing 12 people, including a Palestinian family of six. This morning 14 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip, striking areas inside Israel near Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Sderot. An Israeli was hurt.

Security Council Resolution 1860 was adopted by a majority of 14 votes out of 15; the United States abstained even though it backed the text and praised its content.

The resolution “calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment” and welcomes initiatives aimed at “creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid.”

It also urges member states to intensify efforts for arrangements and guarantees in Gaza “to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the reopening of the crossing points” into Gaza.

It “welcomes the Egyptian initiative and other regional and international efforts that are under way.”

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited Israel and the Palestinians to Cairo for talks on conditions for a truce, on securing Gaza borders (stopping arms and ammunition smuggling), reopening its crossings and lifting the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

On the ground however, fighting continues. Overnight Israeli raids have caused more casualties, especially in Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya.

Three Israeli soldiers were also killed, mostly from friendly fire, taking Israel's death toll to 11 military and four civilians.

According to Palestinian medical sources, more than 750 people have died since 27 December, when Israel began its offensive, many of them civilians.

There is mounting criticism over the death of 50 people killed in Israeli attacks on schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) earlier in the week.

Israel has countered, saying that Hamas uses civilians as human shields, and that the school in question was used by its militants. Local UNRWA officials have denied the allegation.

UNRWA has decided to suspend operations in the territory on Thursday after a UN convoy was hit by two Israeli tank shells, killing a truck driver.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused Israel of failing to help the wounded after rescuers found four small children clinging to their dead mothers during the second daily three-hour suspension of operations.

It said Israeli soldiers failed to help the children in violation of international law, and tried to force rescuers to leave during the three-hour truce Israel concede to help the wounded and to bring supplies to the residents.

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