UN Security Council calls for ceasefire as Israel expands offensive in Gaza

20 July 2014 (Last Updated July 20th, 2014 18:30)

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has called on Israel and Hamas to agree to an immediate ceasefire, amid an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Strip

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has called on Israel and Hamas to agree to an immediate ceasefire, amid an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip.

Following an emergency closed-door meeting, Rwanda's ambassador to the UN Eugene Richard Gasana said the UNSC members called for an immediate ceasefire and respect of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

In addition, the 15-member council is believed to have emphasised the need to improve the humanitarian situation, including through humanitarian pauses, such as the five-hour truce brokered last week.

The ceasefire call coincides with the killing of at least 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers, in what is being called the bloodiest day of fighting since Operation Protective Edge began nearly two weeks ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to continue operations 'as long as necessary', in order to stop Gaza attacks on Israeli civilians.

Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who is currently visiting the Middle East, said: "While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza.

"Dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza."

"I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians."

Ban Ki-moon is also analysing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' request to place Palestine under an international protection system administered by the UN, according to the UN Political Affairs under-secretary-general Jeffrey Feltman.

Around 501 Palestinians have died, while 3,135 were injured during Israel's operation against Hamas insurgents, BBC News reported, citing the Gaza Health Ministry.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said that 81,000 people had now taken shelter in 61 UNRWA facilities in Gaza.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said in an emailed statement: "This figure far exceeds the number seeking refuge with us in the 2008/9 conflict and it is continuing to rise."


Image: A Palestinian girl stands on the ruins of her home after it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0911/El Baba.

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