UN Secretary General Ben Ki-moon said Thursday that an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip is still preventable if Hamas stops rocket fire.
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, Ban expressed concern for the wellbeing of civilians in both Israel and Gaza, adding that the citizens of Gaza are caught between Hamas' irresponsible behavior and Israel's air strikes.
The secretary general expressed concern for civilian deaths, and said the current violence in Gaza shows the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians is unsustainable.
Speaking after the secretary general, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said the "carnage" and "Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza" must be stopped. "Israel's occupation is racist and expansionist," Mansour said, adding, "Israel claims it is the only democracy in the Middle East but is attacking innocent civilians." The envoy accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes and state terror against civilians in Gaza.
Whilst the meeting was underway, a rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing damage but no injuries. The Israeli UN envoy, Ron Prosor, pointed this out in his speech, saying, "Mr Secretary General, while you were talking here, five rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel, and one hit a house."
The Israeli envoy said Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians and trying to implement a genocidal agenda against Israel. "Hamas dragged us into this operation," Prosor said, before sounding a siren in the Security Council hall and telling those in attendance that Israeli civilians have 15 seconds to get to shelters at the sound of this alert.
The Israeli envoy accused the Palestinian envoy of acting as a "mouthpeace for Hamas" and pointed out that he did not say one word about one rocket shot from Gaza at Israel.
At the conclusion of the public meeting, delegates of the 15 Security Council members convened behind closed doors to discuss whether to release a statement. Israeli diplomats said prior to the meeting that the United States is working with the council’s members, particularly Jordan, to ensure that the panel does not condemn Israel over its air strikes that have killed dozens of Palestinian citizens. Jordan represents the Arab countries in the Security Council.
At the end of that meeting, Prosor made rounds in the building, playing the sound of sirens from his iPhone, explaining that Israelis have 15 seconds to run to shelter. He then declared, "We don't want a cease-fire. Our goal is to dismantle Hamas' rocket infrastructure."