As Israeli warplanes carried out the deadliest single attack in nearly a week of unrelenting Hamas missile barrages and Israeli bombings, the United Nations (UN) Security Council diplomats and Muslim foreign ministers called emergency meetings Sunday to urge an end to the civilian bloodshed.
Calls mount for Israel-Gaza ceasefire
Facing calls from some Democrats for the Biden administration to become more involved, President Joe Biden showed no signs of increasing pressure on Israel to commit to an immediate ceasefire. His ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an emergency Security Council high-level meeting that the US was "working diligently through diplomatic channels" to end the war.
However, as violence in Israel and Gaza reached new highs and the international uproar intensified, the Biden administration seemed determined to shift the United States' foreign policy attention away from the Middle East and Afghanistan. It refused to escalate any public demands on Israel to commit to a ceasefire or intensify US diplomatic participation. Other countries' calls for Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and Israel to halt their fire failed to yield results.
The US, Israel's nearest partner, has so far thwarted days of attempts by China, Norway, and Tunisia to persuade the Security Council to release a resolution calling for a ceasefire. Hady Amr, a deputy assistant, sent by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to attempt to de-escalate the situation in Israel, met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who expressed gratitude to the US for its assistance.
Blinken left for a separate tour of Nordic countries on Sunday, with no intention to stop in the Middle East in response to the crisis. From the aircraft, he made calls to Egypt and other countries trying to negotiate a ceasefire, telling Egypt that both sides "should de-escalate tensions and put the conflict to a halt," AP News reported.
Officials from the Biden administration have encouraged peace but have said nothing publicly about pressuring Israel to quickly comply with a ceasefire call made by Egypt and others. According to Thomas-Greenfield, US negotiators are in contact with Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations.
Sunday was the 'deadliest day' in Gaza, say officials
According to Palestinian officials in Gaza, Sunday was the deadliest day since the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict began. More than 40 people were killed in the most recent Israeli air attacks on Gaza, said the officials, as per BBC News.
Within the last week, Palestinian militants have launched over 3,000 missiles at Israel, according to Israel's army. The battle could plunge the country into an "uncontainable crisis," per UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
He called for an end to the "utterly appalling" violence on Sunday.
Fuel shortages in Gaza could result in hospitals and other facilities losing power. According to the BBC, Lynn Hastings, the UN's deputy special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, appealed to Israeli officials to allow the UN to bring in fuel and supplies but was told it was not safe.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza killed 42 people, including 16 women and ten children, Gaza officials confirmed. Since the fighting started last Monday, ten people have been killed in rocket attacks on Israel, including two children, said Israel.
According to the Hamas-controlled health ministry, the total death toll in Gaza has risen to 188 people, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded. Hundreds of militants are said to have died, according to Israel. Just after midnight on Sunday, Israeli airstrikes struck a busy street in Gaza, causing at least three buildings to collapse and dozens of deaths.
Early Monday morning, Israel conducted another round of heavy airstrikes in Gaza, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that the attacks would escalate. Over ten minutes, Israeli warplanes attacked several locations in Gaza.
"Fighter jets are attacking terror sites in the Gaza Strip," Israeli Defense Forces said in a short statement, NY Post reported. Hamas has continued its attack, launching rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas.
Shortly before evening services for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, a rocket hit a synagogue in the southern city of Ashkelon. The synagogue attack resulted in no injury.
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