The Palestinians and Israelis have made rival calls for the UN Security Council to act as Israel hit back against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip with deadly air strikes that left at least 18 people killed, according to medics in Gaza.
Tensions have mounted as the international Quartet on the Middle East - the US, Russia, EU and UN – holds its first top-level meeting in six months on Monday.
The deadlock in the Israel-Palestinian peace process will be discussed at the UN headquarters by the US secretary of state, Russia’s foreign Minister and the UN secretary-seneral. Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs chief, was expected to take part via videoconference.
Hostilities appeared to have eased, at least temporarily, on Monday morning, Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reported from Gaza City.
“We had a lull in the firing, outward bound from Gaza, yesterday afternoon, after a real flurry at about lunchtime, coinciding most likely with the funerals of those … people who were killed in the early hours of Sunday morning,” he said.
The Palestinian UN mission said a 12-year-old boy was among 18 people killed in Israeli air attacks since Friday. It accused Israel of committing “crimes of aggression against the Palestinian people”.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the Security Council must “act with urgency to address this crisis” accusing Israel of staging an “escalation of deadly violence and terror”.
He said women and children were among “dozens” of wounded and the dead also included a farmer killed while working in his field.
Mansour said that if Israel was not held accountable “this will only ensure the bolstering of its impunity and the further escalation of its crimes against the Palestinian people with far-reaching consequences for the future of our people and the prospects for peace and stability to ever be realised”.
In return, Israel criticised the international community’s “silence” over rocket attacks from Gaza, and said in a letter to the Security Council that it would take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians against the renewed barrage.
“For the sake of security and stability in our region, the Security Council and all responsible members of the international community must immediately and unequivocally condemn and do everything in their power to stop the rocket fire that continues to rain down on Israeli civilians,” Haim Waxman, Israel’s deputy UN ambassador, said in the letter.
He said more than 150 rockets had been fired in the previous 48 hours.
Israel “will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens”, Waxman said.