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By Delia M Arias De Leon

UNITED NATIONS – Amid Israel’s efforts to demilitarize the Hamas stronghold in Gaza and protect its citizens from an ongoing barrage of rockets, the United Nations went into a midnight session to demand a stop to the fighting.

Just after midnight Monday morning, the U.N. Security Council ratified a draft presidential statement calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, the first Security Council document on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since January 2009.

Just hours after the agreement, however, Hamas reportedly fired a rocket that hit southern Israel, prompting Israel’s military to respond. Two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing plant in central and northern Gaza were struck, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The U.N. statement urged all sides of the conflict to “accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond,” which would allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

It also called on both sides to “engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully-respected cease-fire.”

The Security Council did not discuss Hamas’ alleged use of its own citizens as human shields. It also did not call for Israeli military to leave Gaza.

WND previously reported the U.N. has called for an investigation of Israel, while ignoring the alleged war crimes committed by Hamas.

Last week, a similar emergency meeting was held at the request of Jordan that proposed crafting a strong cease-fire resolution for consideration. But the most that Security Council members could agree on was “elements to the press,” the weakest course of action the U.N. body can take.

The statement adopted today is a step above that action and will become part of the council’s official record. It required the approval of all 15 of its members. It is not, however, on par with a Security Council resolution, the strongest level of action.

Both the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to the U.N. expressed disappointment with the ambiguous wording of the statement.

Addressing media, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, noted the council “miraculously managed not to mention Hamas, or rockets, or Israel’s right to defend its citizens.” He emphasized the world would be a safer place within an instant if Hamas abided by the cease-fires that have been proposed.

Prosor pointed out Israel had accepted five proposed cease-fires since the conflict began 21 days ago, all of which Hamas rejected, even when called for by the terrorist organization itself.

Riyad Mansour, ambassador and permanent observer of the state of Palestine to the U.N., insisted the Security Council “should have adopted a resolution a long time ago, to condemn this aggression, to call for this aggression to be stopped immediately, to provide the Palestinian people with protection, and to lift the siege against our people in the Gaza strip.”

He also insisted that Israel, which he called an “occupying power,” has an obligation under international law to protect the citizens of the area it occupies.

Mansour lamented that the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which began around the time of the adoption of the statement and celebrates the end of Ramadan, will be spent by many families mourning for their dead.

Addressing media, Prosor urged the world to stand with Israel, which he said is a nation that fights terrorism and defends its citizens.

He candidly stated: “Make no mistake, Hamas is not working alone. It is funded by Qatar and Iran. Every rocket flying out of Gaza could bear the imprint: courtesy of Tehran. While every terror tunnel could have a sign that reads: made possible through a kind donation by the Emir of Qatar.”

Citing reports that the secretary general flew to the Middle-East aboard a private plane financed by the Qatari government, a reporter asked Prosor whether or not he believed the contribution could have affected the wording of the statement.

“The secretary general is a respectable man, and I don’t think that would have any effect on his judgment,” the Israeli ambassador said.

Delia M Arias De Leon writes for WND and is stationed at the United Nations in New York City.

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