Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country’s military campaign in Gaza will continue with “full force”, as the number killed in an overnight airstrike that flattened three buildings rose to 42.
Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier, as militants fired rockets from Gaza.
The most deadly single Israeli attack of the recent conflict brings the number who have died in the Palestinian territory since the fighting erupted last Monday to 188, including 55 children.
The PM’s comments come as the UN Security Council meets to discuss the violence, with the UN’s secretary general Antonio Guterres calling for an immediate end to the violence.
Mr Netanyahu said in a televised speech: “Our campaign against the terrorist organizations is continuing with full force. We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time.”
Gaza health officials said 16 women and 10 children were among those martyrs killed in the airstrike early on Sunday that destroyed several homes.
Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad say 20 martyrs fighters have been killed since the violence broke out – but Israel occupation claimed the real number was far higher as it released the names and photos of two dozen alleged operatives it said were “eliminated”.
Israel’s occupation military said the deaths were “unintentional” and it had been targeting a militant tunnel system which collapsed, causing homes to collapse as well.
Opening a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the ongoing conflict, the organization’s secretary general Antonio Guterres said the hostilities were “utterly appalling” and the fighting must stop immediately.
He said “the United Nations is actively engaging all sides towards an immediate ceasefire” but warned that the violence in Gaza “only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace”.
The organization’s peace envoy Tor Wennesland called on the international community to “take action now to enable the parties to step back from the brink”.
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Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al Malki told the Security Council: “Each time Israel hears a foreign leader speak of its right to defend itself it is further emboldened to continue murdering entire families in their sleep.”
Palestinian and Israeli representatives went next, with a further 20 ambassadors and foreign ministers due to speak as the session continues into the evening, including the UK.
He added: “Israel is building an apartheid system against Palestinians throughout the country.”
Mr Malki’s Palestinian Authority has no control over Hamas and the Gaza Strip, where the militants seized power in 2007.
The Israeli occupation ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said Israel’s response to indiscriminate attacks by Hamas strictly adhered to international law and that the country was taking “unparalleled steps to prevent civilian casualties”.
The meeting was taking place as UK prime minister Boris Johnson condemned anti-Semitism after the Met Police said it was investigating a video appearing to show racist language being shouted from a convoy of cars in the St John’s Wood area of London on Sunday.
Mr Johnson tweeted: “There is no place for antisemitism in our society. Ahead of Shavuot, I stand with Britain’s Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today.”
The Metropolitan Police said the vehicle allegedly involved had been identified and the force was making enquiries to locate the occupants.
“This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated,” the force said.
This is the third UN Security Council meeting in a week, and a UN General Assembly meeting is likely soon too, as well as plenty of US and European diplomacy.
But until both Israel and Hamas want to stop fighting, all this is unlikely to achieve much.
Even behind closed doors, the Security Council was unable to reach agreement on action last week.
With the cameras on, this latest gathering was never likely to be more successful, for all the posturing and grandstanding instead.
We are used to Russia blocking progress at the UN, normally over Syria and being lambasted for it by the US. This time it is the other way around.
Fourteen member states wanted a fairly innocuous press statement issued last week calling for an end to hostilities.
America alone blocked it.
America is taking its cue from Israel, and Israel seems to be saying they need more time.
Israelis refer to it as mowing the grass. Taking action to reduce the threat from Hamas at regular intervals.
That threat has grown. Hamas has managed to fire almost 3,000 missiles in a week.
Israel’s occupation military is now making the most of this window of opportunity to neutralise Hamas’ capability.
It will have an eye on its northern border too, wanting to send a stern message to the Shia militia Hezbollah, not to try the same.
Hamas may also not want the conflict to end quite yet. It is posing as the champion of Jerusalem and Palestinian rights there.
That will increase its political power and ability to recruit and radicalise.
Egypt is acting as mediator and warning that Israel’s targeting of Hamas leaders is not helping its efforts to broker a ceasefire.
For all the talk and handwringing in New York and elsewhere this week, military priorities are likely to dictate progress towards a cessation in violence and for now neither side seem in the mood.