US seeks urgent UN council meeting on anti-Israel strikes

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The UN Security Council will meet Wednesday at the request of the United States to discuss Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, diplomats said.

The United States circulated a draft statement Tuesday calling on the council to condemn “in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza” toward Israel, according to a copy of the text seen by AFP.

The council is expected to meet Wednesday to discuss the attacks from the Gaza Strip that were claimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, prompting Israel to respond with air strikes on bases of the militant Palestinian groups.

“Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

“The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.”

Israel’s military has said it was not seeking an escalation, but warned Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, to rein in its fighters.

The exchange of fire followed weeks of deadly demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.

The US request came as council diplomats are negotiating a draft resolution, put forward by Kuwait, that calls for an “international protection mission” to be deployed for the Palestinians.

Diplomats said the United States is likely to use its veto to block adoption of the measure, but Kuwait is hoping to win backing from the 14 other council members to highlight Washington’s isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

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