4 October 2004 The United Nations Security Council today held an emergency session on the latest Israeli military action in Gaza, with numerous speakers urging a formal response to the scale of violence and mounting civilian casualties on the Palestinian side.
Abdallah Baali, the representative of Algeria, which called for the session on behalf of the Arab Group of States, said the Council should immediately adopt a draft resolution demanding that Israel halt its Gaza manoeuvres.
But there were early indications that the proposed resolution would not meet consensus in the Council. John Danforth, the Ambassador of the veto-wielding United States, said "the resolution that is being presented to us is not the Road Map to peace; it is yet one more step on the road to nowhere."
Others spoke out in favour of the resolution, not least the Permanent Observer of Palestine, Nasser Al-Kidwa, who said Israeli Defence Forces had killed 83 Palestinians, including 20 children under the age of 18, and injured more than 350 others in the past six days. They had also caused widespread destruction, including the demolition of homes and the destruction of farmland and economic installations and infrastructure, he said.
Pointing to a string of violent incidents, he questioned why the Council had so far failed to put an end to Israeli aggression. Even before the present stage, it had failed to halt the decolonization of the Palestinian territory and attempts to change the status of Jerusalem. He said the Council must take a serious position and call on Israel to permanently cease its military aggression.
Yahya Mahmassani, the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the grave situation in the occupied Gaza Strip threatened international peace and security and warned that Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. He also asked how the Council could remain silent observer in the face of daily crimes by the Israeli occupation forces, and called on the 15-member body to provide international protection to the Palestinian people in accordance with international law.
Ravan Farhadi, the Vice-Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, voiced alarm at the disproportionate use of force in the Gaza Strip and called on the Israeli Government to uphold its obligation as the occupying Power and immediately stop the military assault on the Gaza Strip and the rest of the occupied territories. The Council, he said, should send a clear message to the occupying Power to stoop wreaking havoc in the Gaza Strip.
Ambassador Dan Gillerman of Israel said the Council had been galvanized into action not because of the murder of children but rather the defence of those murders. The meeting constituted an attempt to blame the victims of terror, not the perpetrators, he said, charging that as part of the broader Palestinian terrorist campaign, more than 460 Kassam rockets had been indiscriminately fired at Israel's civilian population, causing numerous deaths and injuries as well as the extensive destruction of property.
He argued that the Palestinian leadership still refused to fulfil any of its obligations to confront and dismantle the Palestinian terrorist network in an ongoing violation of basic international norms, signed commitments and the explicit terms of the Road Map outline peace plan. The cost of the Palestinians' morally bankrupt strategy of terrorism was paid in the lives of innocent Israelis and Palestinians, the stagnation in the peace process and the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians, he said, adding that by entertaining initiatives that effectively rewarded that strategy, the Council would only embolden extremists and undermine the Road Map.