TIME Middle East

U.N. Security Council Calls for Unconditional Cease-Fire in Gaza

The international body agreed on a demand for an immediate truce in Gaza on Monday, following the resumption of fighting between Hamas and Israel

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The UN Security Council called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip, along with the “the delivery of urgently needed assistance” to the residents of the conflict-riven coastal territory during an emergency meeting in the early hours of Monday morning.

The 15-member council’s call for all “parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire” came as the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr commenced on Monday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The renewed push for an end to hostilities follows the collapse of a humanitarian agreement over the weekend after Hamas fired a salvo of rockets into Israel that was then followed by the renewed shelling of Gaza by Israeli forces.

There is little evidence to suggest that either side trusts the other enough to follow through with another deal, according to Lina Khatib, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “Israel and Hamas both did not abide by the truce even though they said they agreed to it. The fighting that’s restarted by both sides is a sign that each of them was expecting the other to break the truce first,” she told TIME.

“There’s a dynamic of mistrust that has overwhelmed any desire to engage in truces on both sides.”

During an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that his administration was not obliged to agree to another armistice that would allow Hamas “to rearm, and continue firing on our citizens.”

“We’ll determine what is important for our own security in the way that we can to protect our people, including working against these terror tunnels that they’re digging against us,” said Netanyahu. “That’s how we’ll act.”

At least 999 Palestinians have been killed and another 6,233 injured during the first 20 days of Israeli military’s offensive into Gaza, according to the latest tally by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Forty-six Israelis have been killed, including two civilians and one foreign national.

Hamas has rejected several cease-fire initiatives, including the U.S.-backed deal tabled by Cairo earlier this month, and said it will continue to do so until the Netanyahu Administration agrees to terminate its seven-year blockade of Gaza. In an exclusive interview with Charlie Rose that is set to air on Monday, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal reiterated the organization’s position. “Life is a right for our people in Palestine,” said Meshaal. “This is a collective punishment. We need to lift the siege.”

Analysts explain that Hamas’s obstinacy reflects the group’s desire to remain a political mainstay in the Israeli-Palestinian equation, after joining a unity government with the Palestinian Authority earlier this year. “Hamas wants to prove that it can make demands and it can deliver results,” says Khatib. “So it’s important for its own credibility to show that it can make demands and see the results.”

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