Haley: Gazans need protection -- not from Israel, from Hamas

US blasts Security Council as measure condemning Hamas blocked

Kuwait says its resolution calling for protection of Palestinians is more relevant than US draft on rocket attacks; Haley calls failure to condemn ‘outrageous’

WASHINGTON — US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley castigated the Security Council on Wednesday for failing to collectively condemn rocket attacks on Israel, accusing the international body of bias weeks after another UN panel backed a probe into Israeli actions on the Gaza border.

Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents Arab countries, blocked a US-drafted statement at the council meeting Wednesday, arguing that it had presented its own draft resolution that addressed the crisis.

“It is outrageous for the Security Council to fail to condemn Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli citizens while the Human Rights Council approves sending a team to investigate Israeli actions taken in self-defense,” Haley said before the council meeting called to discuss the flare-up on the Gaza border.

“I urge the members of the Security Council to exercise at least as much scrutiny of the actions of the Hamas terrorist group as it does Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense.”

Her remarks followed the most serious flare-up between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

Crater outside home near Gaza border caused by rocket fired from coastal enclave on May 30, 2018. (Screen capture: Hadashot news/Eshkol Regional Council)

On Tuesday, the Gaza-based Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups launched more than 70 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, prompting dozens of retaliatory airstrikes. Four Israelis were hurt, including a soldier who suffered moderate injuries, and projectiles caused damage to a kindergarten yard an hour before the children arrived, and to a home as a family slept in a fortified room inside.

Kuwait is pushing for a vote at the council this week on its draft resolution calling for “the consideration of measures” for the protection of Palestinian civilians, according to the text obtained by AFP.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, early Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired at least 50 rockets and mortars into southern Israel on Tuesday, the largest barrage since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The United States, which has veto power in the council, will oppose the measure, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told reporters.

“The people of Gaza do not need protection from an external source. The people of Gaza need protection from Hamas,” Haley said.

The US called the emergency meeting Tuesday evening, though by Wednesday night a tense calm appeared to hold in the Strip following reported mediation efforts by Egypt.

In a briefing with reporters before the meeting,  Danon warned that Israel would respond to any future attacks with whatever force needed to protect its people from terrorism.

“If Israeli children are not allowed to sleep quietly at night, then the terrorists of Gaza will feel the might of the IDF,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to harm our citizens and we will do all that is necessary to defend them.”

Tuesday’s violence was the most serious escalation since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas and followed weeks of Palestinian protests in which more than 100 Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli forces. Israel says a majority of those killed were from terror groups and that it was acting to defend its border from violent protesters and terror operatives seeking to infiltrate the country to carry out attacks or damage the fence. Hamas has acknowledged more than 50 of the fatalities were its members.

Earlier this month, the UN’s Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging a probe into Israeli actions on the border during the protests, angering Israel and the US, which have accused the body of being one-sided.

Palestinians burn tires along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, on May 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

At the Security Council meeting, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process warned that the day of fighting showed how close the region was to another war.

“This latest round of attacks is a warning to all of how close to the brink of war we are every day,” said Mladenov, who spoke via video link from Jerusalem.

“No one in Gaza can afford another war,” said Mladenov.

With the council deadlocked, France warned that the failure to agree on a response to the Gaza crisis was damaging to the United Nations.

“This increasingly heavy silence, which is becoming deafening, is not acceptable,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre.

“It is not acceptable for the Palestinian and Israeli populations, who are affected by this conflict. It is not acceptable for the world that is watching us,” he said.

Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Haley expressed frustration that the council could not agree on condemning the rocket attacks on Israel, and accused Hamas of trying to goad the Israelis into a response.

“Unlike some situations we deal with here in the Security Council, we’re guilty parties claim mistaken identity, or lack of evidence of responsibility, this is clearly not the case,” she said. “Hamas openly claims responsibility for this attack. They do so proudly. Their only regret is that the attack did not kill anyone.”

“The Security Council has always been quick to pounce on Israel, regardless of the facts or the circumstances,” Haley added. “I am very interested in how my colleagues respond when the attacks are directly against Israel.”

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