The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Thursday called for humanitarian pauses in Gaza and renewed an appeal for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas amid alarm over the fate of civilians, AFP reports.
The 15 members of the panel expressed "grave disappointment" that repeated calls for a truce had not been heeded, in a statement read to the press at the end of a four-hour meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York.
UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos called for the brief humanitarian breaks to allow relief workers to reach those in need, telling the Council that such pauses would give civilians much-needed reprieve.
The head of the UN relief agency in Gaza also appealed to the top body for action, saying the Palestinian Arabs were "facing a precipice" in the conflict that has pushed humanitarian efforts to the breaking point.
"Council members called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that can lead to a sustainable ceasefire based on the Egyptian proposal," said Rwandan Deputy Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe.
"Council members encouraged the use of humanitarian pauses" and called on countries to make donations to the UN agency in Gaza, he said.
The press statement read by the Rwandan chair of the Security Council fell short of the toughly-worded resolution that the Palestinian Authority’s representative and Arab countries are seeking.
It made no reference to the attack on Wednesday of a UN-run school that left at least 16 dead and drew fierce international condemnation.
UN officials have said they believe an Israeli artillery strike hit the school and have called for a full investigation.
Diplomats said the divided Council failed to agree on wording that would have condemned the UN school attack after the United States insisted that a reference be made to rockets found in abandoned schools.
That stance ran into strong objections from Jordan, diplomatic sources said.
The White House said earlier Thursday there was little doubt Israeli artillery was the source of the strike, calling it "totally indefensible."
At an emergency meeting late Sunday, the Council agreed on a statement calling for the ceasefire but it has yet to discuss a draft resolution put forward by Jordan demanding an Israeli withdrawal and lifting of the blockade on Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority’s representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, again called on the Security Council to adopt a tough resolution.
"Enough is enough, this genocide should be stopped immediately," Mansour told reporters, according to AFP.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said Israel had agreed to "every humanitarian ceasefire" in the conflict and renewed accusations that Hamas was using civilians as shields.
He showed aerial photographs of Hamas rocket launch sites, saying these were close to schools.