TEL AVIV – Israeli ambassador to the UN urged Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council to condemn Hamas following the firing of over 180 rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
“Alarms have once again shattered the hope of the children of southern Israel for a quiet summer vacation – no country would tolerate such a situation. The international community must condemn Hamas and place the responsibility for this unacceptable onslaught on the terrorist organization,” wrote Danny Danon.
“Israel will continue to take all necessary measures to prevent harm to civilians and to protect its sovereignty,” he added.
The UN’s Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov expressed his “deep alarm” on Thursday over the violence.
“For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risks a devastating conflict that nobody wants,” Mladenov said in a statement issued Thursday.
“Our collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now,” continued Mladenov. “If the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”
UN Envoy @nmladenov deeply alarmed by escalation of violence btw #Gaza & #Israel. "Our collective efforts ve prevented the situation from exploding until now. If current escalation isn't contained immediately, situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences 4 all" pic.twitter.com/nzfQ7DjixG
— UNSCO (@UNSCO_MEPP) August 8, 2018
France condemned the rocket fire from Gaza, while calling on “all parties” to show restraint.
“France deplores the escalation of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. It condemns the firing of rockets toward Israel and would like restraint to prevail and the ceasefire to be upheld by all parties in order to prevent further civilian casualties,” the ministry said in a statement.
“These incidents underscore the urgent need to work toward finding a lasting political solution for Gaza and to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis affecting the Palestinian population,” it added, saying that removing the blockade on Gaza was on way to go about finding a solution. Israel says the blockade is essential to curb the smuggling of weapons and terror attacks.
Throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Gaza terror groups fired over 180 rockets, with more than 30 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. At least seven people were injured and damage was caused to private and commercial property as well as infrastructure throughout the area, the army said.
The IDF responded by targeting over 150 Hamas “terror sites” in the coastal enclave. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, three people were killed including a pregnant woman and her toddler, and a Hamas fighter who is the son of a senior commander of Hamas’ armed wing. The IAF also struck two Hamas terror tunnels, a tunnel opening, as well as a terrorist cell for launching mortar shells.
Early Thursday afternoon a Palestinian official from the Gaza Strip declared an end to hostilities and pledged that armed factions in the Strip would maintain the peace if Israel did the same.
The announcement was followed by more rocket attacks, with sirens going off in multiple Israeli towns, but causing no injuries. Sirens were also heard in the city of Beersheba, some 40 kilometers from the Strip, marking the first time residents of the city ran for shelter since the 2014 Gaza war.
The IAF retaliated by destroying a headquarters for Hamas’ security service, wounding 18 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Earlier Thursday a senior army official warned that Israel was on the brink of a full scale conflict with Gaza, and added that Israel may decide to evacuate entire communities in southern Israel.
“We are rapidly nearing a confrontation,” the IDF senior officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Hamas is making serious mistakes, and we may have to make it clear after four years that this path doesn’t yield any results for it and isn’t worth it.”