Palestinian death toll climbs amid UN deadlock

Palestinian death toll climbs amid UN deadlock
3 min read
Calls for a ceasefire intensified, but Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would continue its onslaught on the besieged enclave "as long as necessary", before a UN Security Council meeting broke up without issuing a statement.
Heavy Israeli air strikes claimed more Palestinian lives on Tuesday [Getty]

Israel's heavy bombardment on Gaza has claimed more lives on Tuesday, as tensions flared in Palestinian "day of anger" protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Calls for a ceasefire intensified, but Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would continue its onslaught on the besieged enclave "as long as necessary", before a UN Security Council meeting broke up after less than an hour without issuing a statement.

Israeli forces fired at Palestinian protesters at multiple flashpoints across the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem, injuring scores, as Palestinians rallied in solidarity with their besieged Gazans. Dozens were treated for wounds caused by live bullets, medics said. 

Israel's relentless bombing campaign has killed 217 Palestinians, including 63 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in just over a week in the enclave, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Israeli strikes that again sent fireballs, debris and black smoke into the sky have left two million Palestinians in Gaza desperate for reprieve.

"They destroyed our house but I don't know why they targeted us," said Nazmi al-Dahdouh, 70, of Gaza City who remained shocked by what he called "a terrifying, violent night".

The humanitarian crisis deepened in the impoverished strip, from where Hamas fired back nearly 3,500 rockets at Israel since May 10.

But a convoy of international aid trucks that started rolling into Gaza through a border crossing from Israel, Kerem Shalom, was halted when Israel quickly shuttered it again, allegeding a "mortar attack" on the area.

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Crisis diplomacy 

Tuesday's UN Security Council session, the fourth since the conflict escalated, was called after the United States, a key Israel ally, the previous day once again blocked adoption of a joint statement calling for a halt to the violence.

But the latest session again closed without consensus. "We do not judge that a public pronouncement right now will help de-escalate," US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during Tuesday's closed-door meeting, according to a diplomat.

France and Egypt are pushing for a ceasefire deal, while Qatar and Egypt are working another channel, via the UN. 

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday strongly backed the manifold calls for a ceasefire, while urging Israel's military to act in a "proportionate" manner.

The violence risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying 58,000 Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes.

A strike on Monday knocked out Gaza's only Covid-19 testing laboratory, the health ministry said, and the Qatari Red Crescent said a strike damaged one of its offices.

Hospitals in the territory, which has been under Israeli blockade for almost 15 years, have been overwhelmed by patients and there are frequent power blackouts.

Perspectives

'Day of anger'

Palestinians across the West Bank and in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem mobilised on Tuesday for protests and a general strike that shuttered non-essential businesses, in support of those under bombardment in Gaza.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement had called for a "day of anger", a call echoed in Arab and ethnically mixed towns inside Israel.

"We are here to raise our voice and stand with the people in Gaza who are being bombed," Ramallah protester Aya Dabour told AFP.

The Palestinian health ministry said four Palestinians were shot dead in the West Bank, bringing to 24 the total number of Palestinians killed there since May 10.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its teams had treated more than 150 people in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, including 35 with live bullet wounds and more than 80 suffering from tear gas inhalation.