European nations working on UN Gaza ceasefire resolution

Sources say Israelis and Palestinians interested in Security Council involvement; UN aid workers call for humanitarian truce

Palestinians watch as a cloud of smoke rises above local homes moments after an Israeli missile hit an open field nearby in Gaza City on August 21, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ ROBERTO SCHMIDT)
Palestinians watch as a cloud of smoke rises above local homes moments after an Israeli missile hit an open field nearby in Gaza City on August 21, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

UNITED NATIONS — UN diplomats said Thursday that Britain, France and Germany were discussing a possible Security Council resolution calling for a sustainable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an international monitoring mission to ensure its implementation.

One diplomat said both Israeli and Palestinian officials have privately suggested Security Council action would be helpful in persuading their constituents to accept measures to end the conflict.

The diplomats said the resolution would include opening up Gaza’s borders and a return of the Palestinian Authority in the territory. It would also include security assurances for the Israelis, including ways to prevent Hamas from acquiring more arms and building more tunnels.

Haaretz reported that a copy of the document obtained by Israel also called for measures against financing of terrorism and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

The international monitoring mission would likely be a joint-UN-European effort.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private and sensitive.

Also on Thursday, UN aid workers stepped up calls for an urgent Gaza ceasefire, warning that spiraling violence endangered their ability to respond to the needs of the 1.8 million affected population.

The head of UNICEF’s field office in Gaza, Anne-Claire Dufay, told AFP that renewed hostilities were threatening the delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of children with acute needs.

“We urgently need a few hours of ceasefire per day so we can provide support to affected children and families,” Dufay told AFP.

Work to repair infrastructure damaged during the six-week war between Israel and Hamas has temporarily halted since hostilities resumed on Tuesday as truce talks unraveled, she said.

UNICEF teams had also had their movement restricted, Dufay said.

“In the current context we should at least have a few hours a day for a humanitarian ceasefire corridor,” she said.

Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza and the West Bank, said there was an “urgent need for an immediate ceasefire.”

The number of displaced Palestinians has risen to 435,000, the UN says, since truce talks collapsed in Cairo when Hamas resumed rocket attacks on Israel and warplanes retaliated.

The United Nations warned that the number of displaced is expected to increase further with an extra 23,000 people already seeking shelter at 82 UN and seven government schools.

Rajasingham said constant movement between homes and shelters, when ceasefires begin and end, was traumatic, particularly for children.

“It is extremely difficult for us to do our job, to save lives, protect and assist those in need, including for medical staff to save lives, of aid workers to meet needs, for specialists to clear unexploded munitions, or for technicians to repair damage to infrastructure vital to the population,” he said.

“In the long run, a permanent halt in violence stemming from a durable ceasefire is crucial to mitigating the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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