UN set to call for Gaza ceasefire
UN set to call for Gaza ceasefire Israel News Photo: (file)

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza after Western powers agreed to Arab demands. However, the motion does not detail how to carry out a halt in the fighting. The resolution "calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire" that will lead to a "full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza."

The United States abstained in the 14-0 vote because it wants to wait for the outcome of an Egyptian truce initiative.

The resolution, which is backed by both Western and Arab nations, condemns terror against civilians and calls on Israel to open Gaza crossings and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, a move Israel already has made.

Arab nations insisted on the insertion of a ceasefire call in the resolution. However, the draft does not spell out details, and it will be up to Hamas and Israel to decide on the field whether to halt fire or continue the battle that began 13 days ago. Egypt and France are continuing their efforts to draw up a plan to carry out a halt in the fighting.

Germany, France and the United States said that Israel cannot be expected to halt its counterterrorist campaign until there is a guaranteed mechanism to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, where Hamas still possesses thousands of deadly rockets.

"The guns must fall silent, the escalation must stop and Israel must obtain security guarantees and leave Gaza as soon as possible," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters.

Israel's position has been weakened to a certain degree by Hamas's putting on display a row of bodies of children who were killed in the IDF shelling of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Gaza. Israel and UNRWA issued conflicting claims on whether Hamas terrorists used the school to fire mortar shells on Israeli soldiers.

Further criticism of Israel came from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which accused Israel of preventing rescue efforts, and from the UNRWA, which suspended humanitarian aid operations after a truck driver was killed. The IDF said it is investigating the accusations.