Russia upset by Security Council silence on Gaza

2:22 AM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
Palestinians inspect the damage at Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's office after Israeli airstrike, Gaza City
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia's U.N. ambassador is frustrated the Security Council has remained silent about the escalating violence in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin says Morocco circulated a proposed press statement as early as last Thursday but foot-dragging by one council member meant it "is still bogged down" and characterized it as a "filibuster attempt."

He wouldn't tell reporters which nation was blocking the press statement, which must be adopted unanimously. But said anyone guessing it was the United States would be "a connoisseur" of Security Council politics.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said after Monday night council consultations that the Egyptian government, President Barack Obama and others are working through all channels to broken an end to violence.

Several Western diplomats say the sticking point in the early versions of the Moroccan draft statement is that it omits a clear reference to the months of rocket attacks on Israeli land prior to Israel's airstrikes last week in Gaza. 

Israel, Hamas trade fire and tough truce proposals

The Israeli military says militants in Gaza firing rockets into Israel are launching some of them from residential areas.

The Israeli military released video it says showed a weapons depot hidden in a Gaza neighborhood. The military says militants fired nearly 100 rockets on Monday.

Counter attacks killed at least 38 Palestinians on Monday, bringing the death toll since the start of Israel's offensive to 111. That number includes 56 civilians. Some 800 people have been wounded, more than 200 of them children. Three Israelis have died and dozens were wounded since last week.

Meanwhile, Egypt is at the center of diplomatic activity to end the violence. Egyptian intelligence officials met separately in Cairo with an Israeli envoy and with the top Hamas leader in exile.

Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

Associated Press

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