Palestinian officials have asked the U.N. Security Council to act to halt Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip. In a closed-door meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday night, U.N. observer Riyad Mansour said Israel was boasting publicly about killing Palestinians after conducting airstrikes that killed Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari.
"War crimes are being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people," Mansour said. "The international community must act to bring to bring an end to Israel's illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian people."
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said the strikes had been launched in response to days of rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza. He said no one complained when Palestinians were "raining rockets on Israeli civilians," something no other nation would tolerate.
"Hamas has turned Gaza into a dump for ammunition and weapons supplies brought in from Iran," he said.
Prosor said some of the representatives on the Security Council supported Israel's "right of self-defense and condemned the indiscriminate shooting of rockets upon innocent Israeli citizens."
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council that the U.S. "strongly condemned" the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel and expressed regret at the ensuing deaths and injuries of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
She said that "Hamas claims to have the best interest of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza [and does] not move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self-determination and independence."
India's Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who this month holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency, said he hoped the closed-door debate would "help de-escalate the situation and impress upon the parties to exercise maximum restraint.
"The violence has to stop," Puri said.
The council adjourned without issuing any collective statement, and no further action was on the schedule.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released statements saying he had spoken to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi about "the worrisome escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza and the need to prevent any further deterioration."