The Latest: US envoy to UN denounces use of ‘human shields’
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on a meeting at the U.N. Security Council on the Mideast and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (all times local):
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the use of civilians as human shields is reaching “epic proportions” in the Mideast, accusing Hamas in Gaza and militants in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen of hiding behind innocent men, women and children.
Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Thursday that “Iran is the patron and protector of many of these groups that fight from behind the bodies of innocent civilians.”
She says the civilians “either provide cover for military infrastructure, or they become victims that rally the international media to their cause.”
Haley added that “either way, innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire, and exploited for illegitimate military and political purposes.” She also called the use of human shields a “barbaric practice” and a “war crime.”
Haley said “for humanity’s sake the Security Council must rise up to address this threat.”
Israel’s U.N. ambassador is denying Palestinian claims that protests in Gaza are peaceful and accusing Hamas, which controls the coastal territory, of orchestrating confrontations along the security fence with Israel and using women and children as human shields.
Danny Danon told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday there is nothing peaceful about Palestinians putting explosives on the fence, firing over it, setting off firebombs, burning tires and throwing Molotov cocktails.
Danon called the protests “riots” and said Hamas “terrorists are hiding while allowing — even hoping — for their people to die.” He called this “evil in its purest form.”
The U.N. Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said 35 Palestinians have been killed and “large numbers” injured by Israeli military forces since protests in Gaza began on March 30. Israel has been accused by rights groups of using excessive force.
Danon said Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens “and we will do so while minimizing casualties to the other side.”
The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is accusing Israel’s military forces of targeting civilians in Gaza and has described their deliberate killing and wounding as “terrorism.”
Riyad Mansour told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that “the international community must demand answers from Israel.”
The U.N. Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said 35 Palestinians have been killed and “large numbers” wounded by Israeli military forces since protests along the Gaza-Israel border began on March 30.
Mansor says it shouldn’t be surprising that Palestinians “living in the longest military occupation and most protracted refugee crisis in modern history” would rise up peacefully “to demand their dignity and freedom” — especially in Gaza where he said its 2 million inhabitants are under an Israeli land, sea and air blockade.
Mansour urged the Security Council to take immediate action “to de-escalate this dangerous situation.”
The U.N.’s top Mideast envoy says the Gaza Strip is “a powder keg” and declared that the world “must do everything possible to prevent another war” between Israel and the Palestinians and elsewhere in the Mideast.
Nickolay Mladenov also warned that prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are slipping further away, “emboldening extremists and deepening polarization and mistrust on all sides.”
He says that with tensions mounting across the region, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a perpetual source of oxygen for militants and radicals across the Middle East.”
Mladenov spoke to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
He says there is no military solution to any Mideast conflict and added that de-escalation is critical “in this highly charged and dangerous environment.”
He urged everyone in the region “to step back from the brink.”