The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Thursday on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas following a request by Arab envoys and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Ban will provide the latest about the situation on the ground at the talks, which will begin at 10:00 am (1400 GMT) and will be followed by closed-door consultations between the council’s 15 members.
Kuwaiti ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi had earlier urged the council to “stop the Israeli aggression and collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” amid increased fighting between Israel and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.
“I think it is about time the council issue a statement or resolution,” he told reporters, speaking on behalf of the Arab bloc.
The Israeli army’s “disproportionate use of force is unjustifiable,” charged Saudi ambassador Abdullah Al-Muallimi, urging the council to “intervene immediately and take measures to protect the population.”
And Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour accused the council of “dragging its feet while aggression and collective punishment are taking place.”
Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor retorted that “Hamas started this and has left us no choice,” emphasizing that the Israeli army “uses precision strikes to avoid killing civilians.”
The growing violence has also seen a rise in rocket attacks from Gaza aimed at Israel’s cities and a nuclear reactor.
The latest cycle of violence is the worst since an Israeli offensive against Gaza in 2012 that also aimed to stop Palestinian rocket attacks.
The council meeting could aim to adopt a declaration condemning the rocket attacks on Israel while also “asking restraint on both sides,” a Western diplomat said.
He said it was “difficult, but not impossible,” to get an agreement on such a proposal among the body’s members.