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UN Security Council to hold emergency session after Gaza hospital blast

Israel’s U.N. envoy: “The only ones shooting indiscriminate missiles at civilians are the Palestinians."

A U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Manuel Elías/U.N. Photo.
A U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Manuel Elías/U.N. Photo.

The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to hold an emergency session on Wednesday morning following an explosion at a Gaza hospital that has set the Middle East on edge.

Russia and the United Arab Emirates called for an open meeting shortly after news of the explosion in the courtyard of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, which according to Hamas sources killed 500 Palestinians. 

The explosion rocked the hospital as Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired heavy barrages of rockets at southern and central Israel. Alarms sounded in cities including Rishon Lezion, Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Bat Yam.

The Israel Defense Forces provided evidence the disaster was caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket fired from a nearby cemetery that fell short, including images establishing that the only visible damage was in a parking lot.

Hamas and much of the Arab world immediately blamed Israel, accusing the IDF of deliberately striking the hospital.

On Tuesday evening, Riyad Mansour, the PLO’s envoy to the United Nations, held a joint press conference with ambassadors from the Arab Group, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Mansour accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of lying about who is at fault for the hospital strike.

The UAE, which was initially supportive of Israel following the brutal Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, has since fallen back into its role as the voice of the Arab world in the Security Council.

The Emiratis issued a statement on Tuesday evening that “strongly condemns the Israeli attack that resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of people.” 

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, wrote on Tuesday evening that “the terrorists in Gaza are not only responsible for murdering Israeli children—they also murder Palestinian children.” 

Regarding the hospital explosion, Erdan implored the global community to “stop believing these ISIS-like terrorists. The only ones shooting indiscriminate missiles at civilians are the Palestinians, who have been doing it for years.”

A scheduled meeting on the crisis in the Middle East, set for 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, was postponed. The Security Council was set to vote on a Brazil-drafted resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war. It also urges Israel to rescind its order for civilians and U.N. staff to evacuate northern Gaza so that it can conduct military operations against Hamas while keeping civilians out of harm’s way.

Brazil’s text is now set to be voted on before Wednesday’s emergency session. 

The United States has been pushing to hold off on Brazil’s resolution until after President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel on Tuesday. That trip was set to include a summit in Amman with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to coordinate a humanitarian response, but the meeting was canceled following the hospital explosion.

On Monday, the Security Council rejected a Russia-drafted resolution, largely for failing to call out Hamas by name for the Oct. 7 attack. The UAE voted in favor.

Martin Griffiths, the U.N.’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday to support negotiations on the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The United Nations said he intends to visit Israel, though there is no confirmation of that from Jerusalem.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will travel from China to Egypt on Thursday to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Egypt has refused to allow Gazans fleeing the violence in the Strip through to refuge.

Guterres is also slated to speak on Saturday at an international conference that el-Sisi is sponsoring.

JNS sources previously indicated the secretary-general was planning a trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority at around this time on the calendar, but there are no current indications that he will arrive now with regional tensions boiling over.

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