Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international observers to monitor the Israel-Gaza conflict amid reports that Russia has drafted a resolution aimed at helping international efforts to settle the conflict for the consideration of the U.N. Security Council.
Death toll in unabated Israeli air strikes targeting Hamas has crossed 100, with no let up in Palestinian militants firing rockets across the border to Israel.
Russian media quoting Moscow's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin reported on Monday that the draft resolution would focus on three key components: Call for an immediate end to the violence in order to negotiate a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians, Support for international and regional efforts to settle the conflict peacefully and in a political manner, and Call for a resumption of talks between the two sides in the broader context of the decades-old conflict.
At least 105 people have died in the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces continued its week-old bombardment of the coastal enclave in response to the unabated rocket attacks from Gaza militants on Israeli territory.
Both sides have been violating international humanitarian law, according to information gathered by the U.N., local human rights organizations and Amnesty International.
The Israeli military reports that it has attacked more than 1,350 targets in Gaza since November 14. Israeli forces have fired artillery into densely populated residential areas, attacked government and media buildings, and bombed the family homes of members of Palestinian armed groups.
Amnesty said that by Monday afternoon, it had collected the names of 66 civilians killed in Gaza, including 17 children and nine women. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that 622 civilians in Gaza had been injured, including 175 children and 107 women, many of them severely.
Palestinian armed groups have fired more than 1,100 rockets into Israel in the corresponding period, which have killed three Israeli civilians and injured at least 51, according to the Israeli branch of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Some of the rockets have landed within the Gaza Strip itself, resulting in civilian casualties.
A clear outcome of an Egypt-mediated talks with senior Israeli and Hamas officials in Cairo to broker a truce is awaited, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is camping in the Egyptian capital to assist in negotiating efforts.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday night called his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. Obama underscored the need for Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel. In both calls, Obama expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, and agreed to stay in close touch with both leaders, the White House said.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a daily press briefing that Washington was working to try to get this conflict de-escalated, and expressed concern for the civilians and innocents on both sides who were getting caught in the flare up. She insisted that Israel has a right of self-defense.
Nuland said U.S. Embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo, and its Consulate in Jerusalem had released security messages encouraging U.S. citizens to exercise caution and to take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security in the light of the ongoing violence. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is operating with essential staff and limited Consular services. U.S. Consulate-General in Jerusalem is limiting official travel, while the Embassy in Cairo is open and operating normally, she added.
The European Union Foreign Ministers' meeting on Monday expressed grave concern about the situation in Gaza and Israel, and deeply regretted loss of civilian life on both sides. It called for an urgent de-escalation and cessation of hostilities. It supported the efforts of Egypt and other actors to mediate for a rapid ceasefire and welcomed the mission of the U.N. Secretary-General to the region.
The EU strongly condemned rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and urged Hamas and other armed groups in the coastal strip to cease them immediately. While admitting Israel's right to protect its population from such kinds of attacks, the Ministers cautioned Israel that in doing so it must act proportionately and ensure the protection of civilians at all times. The EU stressed the need for all sides to fully respect international humanitarian law.
by RTT Staff Writer
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