UN Security Council divided over response to Hamas assault on Israel

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Numerous members of the UN Security Council denounced Hamas on Sunday over its massive assault on Israel but the United States regretted the lack of unanimity.

At an emergency session, the United States and Israel urged strong condemnation of the Palestinian militia group, who rule the blockaded Gaza Strip and launched a surprise assault on Saturday in fighting that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

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“There are a good number of countries that condemned the Hamas attacks. They’re obviously not all,” senior US diplomat Robert Wood told reporters after the closed-door session.

“You could probably figure out one of them without me saying anything,” said Wood, in a clear allusion to Russia, whose relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since its invasion of Ukraine.

Diplomats said the Security Council did not consider any joint statement, let alone a binding resolution, with members led by Russia hoping for a broader focus than condemning Hamas.

“My message was to stop the fighting immediately and to go to a ceasefire and to meaningful negotiations, which was told for decades” by the Security Council, said Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations.

“This is partly the result of unresolved issues,” he said.

China, generally Russia’s ally at the Security Council, said it would support a joint statement.

“It’s abnormal that the Security Council doesn’t say anything,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said, who earlier promised Chinese support for a condemnation of “all attacks against civilians.”

Entering the session, Israel’s ambassador, Gilad Erdan, showed graphic pictures of Israeli civilians being taken captive by Hamas.

“These are war crimes -- blatant, documented war crimes,” Erdan said.

“This unimaginable -- unimaginable -- atrocity must be condemned,” he said of the Security Council.

“Israel must be given steadfast support to defend ourselves -- to defend the free world.”

The Palestinian ambassador -- who represents the West Bank-centered Palestinian Authority and not rival Hamas -- called on the Security Council to focus on ending Israeli occupation.

“Regrettably, history for some media and politicians starts when Israelis are killed,” said the envoy, Riyad Mansour.

“This is not a time to let Israel double-down on its terrible choices. This is a time to tell Israel it needs to change course, that there is a path to peace where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed.”

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