Israeli envoy to the United Nations Ron Prosor delivered an impassioned defense of Israeli policy at the U.N. Security Council, which expressed concern at the escalation of violence in the Gaza conflict.
“The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern about the growing number of casualties. The members of the Security Council called for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” Rwandan U.N. Ambassador Eugene Gasana told reporters after an emergency meeting of the 15-member council.
Jordan had requested the meeting after more than 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Sunday as Israel shelled Gaza’s Shejaia neighborhood and battled terrorists in the bloodiest fighting in the 13-day offensive.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in the Middle East in a bid to help broker a ceasefire, condemned the killings in Shejaia as an “atrocious action” and called for an immediate end to the fighting. Ban was in Qatar on Sunday and is due to visit Cairo, Yerushalayim and Ramallah.
Ambassador Prosor responded to the condemnations of Israel by making clear that this was a conflict that it never sought and has done all possible to avert. But the other side has made peacemaking impossible.
“In the face of terrorists kidnapping our children, we were left with no choice.
“In the face of rockets raining down on our citizens, we were left with no choice.
“In the face of jihadists tunneling under our borders, we were left with no choice,” Prosor began.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu made the … decision to accept every cease-fire offered — even as the people of Israel were under attack. But Hamas rejected every overture to restore the quiet.”
Prosor cited years of terrorism and “the unrelenting threats that Israel faces.” In the latest round, “we have been attacked on four fronts. Rockets have been launched from Syria, Lebanon, and Sinai and over 1,500 rockets have been fired by terrorists in Gaza.”
Prosor implored the U.N. members to “stand now with Israel to prevent the next barrage of rockets, the next kidnapping, and the next suicide attack, so that we may, once and for all, remove the threat of terrorism casting its dark shadow over the people of Israel.”
Answering the allegations that Israel has been heedless of civilian casualties, Prosor noted that “throughout Operation Protective Edge, Israel has been committed to upholding international law. We are operating only against terrorist targets and genuinely regret any civilian loss.
“In contract, there is no red line that Hamas will not cross. It will stop at nothing and there is no depth that they will not sink to — they are even using ambulances filled with children to move their terrorists around Gaza.”
In a criticism of the rhetoric of moral equivalence, he asserted that “All those who argue that both sides are equally to blame are playing into Hamas’s hand and sentencing the people of Gaza and Israel to further suffering. Ill-informed condemnations of Israel strengthen the hand of terrorists.
“There is a clear difference between Israel and Hamas — the Jewish people believe in the value of life, while Hamas believes in the value of taking lives.