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UN Security Council urges ‘full adherence’ to Gaza ceasefire

Israel pans the statement — the first the council managed to agree on since the conflict broke out — for failing to mention Hamas or its rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

The UN Security Council chambers in New York. (Norway Mission to the UN/Twitter)
The UN Security Council chambers in New York. (Norway Mission to the UN/Twitter)

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday called for “full adherence to the ceasefire” that ended the 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

After failing several times to pass a resolution on the conflict as it unfolded, Council members “welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire beginning May 21 and recognized the important role Egypt [and] other regional countries” played in it, while stressing “the immediate need for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza.”

It also “mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence.”

“The members of the Security Council stressed the urgency of the restoration of calm in full and reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders,” the resolution said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry criticized the Council for not mentioning Hamas’s firing of rockets at Israeli population centers during the fighting.

“The full responsibility for the escalation is on the Hamas terror group, which chose to open rocket fire at Israel’s capital Jerusalem, the Gaza periphery and other Israeli cities,” a ministry statement said. It accused the Security Council of “ignoring” the over 4,000 rockets fired toward Israel during the 11 days of fighting.

“We expect the international community to condemn Hamas, disarm it and ensure the rehabilitation of the Strip while preventing the flow of money and weaponry for terror,” it continued.

It also thanked the Biden administration for backing it in the Security Council, after the US blocked three previous joint statements calling to end the fighting, saying they wouldn’t help that goal. The US backed the latest statement.

Egyptian mediators held talks Saturday to firm up the Israel-Hamas ceasefire.

Saturday marked the first full day of a truce that ended the fourth Israel-Hamas war in just over a decade. In the fighting, Israel unleashed hundreds of airstrikes against terror targets in Gaza, while Hamas and other terror groups fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel. More than 250 people were killed, the majority of them Palestinians. Israel asserts some 200 were terror operatives.

A Palestinian policeman walks on the rubble of Arafat City, Gaza’s Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City on May 22, 2021 (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory. There was a widespread expectation that the ceasefire would stick for now, but another round of fighting at some point seems inevitable. Underlying issues remain unresolved, including the Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, now in its 14th year, that is choking Gaza’s more than 2 million residents and a refusal by the Hamas terror group to disarm (Israel says the blockade is necessary to limit access to weapons by Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction).

The fighting began May 10, when Hamas terrorists in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. Palestinian terror groups have tied rocket fire from Gaza to unrest in Jerusalem connected to both prayer on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as well as the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, Monday, May. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The war has further sidelined Hamas’s main political rival, the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority, which oversees autonomous areas of the West Bank. Hamas has increasingly positioned itself as a defender of Jerusalem in Palestinian public opinion.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli leaders when he visits in the coming week. Abbas is expected to raise demands that any Gaza reconstruction plans go through the Palestinian Authority to avoid strengthening Hamas.

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