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UN chief calls for end to "utterly appalling" Israeli-Palestinian violence at Security Council

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The UN Security Council meeting was held online
The UN Security Council meeting was held online   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the violence between Israel and Hamas to come to an immediate end.

Opening an emergency online meeting of the Security Council on Sunday, Guterres said the current hostilities were "utterly appalling".

"This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace," he said.

"Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately. Rockets and mortars on one side, aerial bombardments on the other, must stop. The United Nations is actively engaging all sides towards an immediate ceasefire."

The UN Secretary-General also expressed alarm at the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties from Israeli strikes in Gaza, and at Israeli fatalities from the incessant rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, as well as the mob violence that has racked mixed Israeli cities.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told those present that the U.S. had been "working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to try to end the conflict.

She also called the rocket attacks launched on Israel were “completely premeditated” and part of a "vicious plan" to gain political power and replace the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Tragic tales of victims

During the meeting on Sunday, Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Maliki demanded the UN increase pressure on Tel Aviv.

He drew members' attention to the case of the Al-Hadidi family, 10 of whom were killed in an instant by an Israeli air strike on Saturday after gathering for Eid in Gaza's Shati refugee camp. Only its youngest member, a baby found clutching its dead mother's chest, survived.

"Mister President, there are no words to describe the horrors our people are enduring," al-Maliki said. "Baby Omar Hadidi came to life only five months ago and will now have to go through life without his mother and brothers: Oussama, six years old, Abdul-Rahman, eight, Suhaib, 14, all killed by an Israeli airstrike."

But Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Security Council reacted by accusing Hamas of "premeditating" the conflict. Holding up a photo for the meeting and for the cameras, Gilad Erdan also told the story of a victim.

"This is Nadine Awad," he said, "a sixteen-year-old girl, an Arab citizen of Israel. She was studying chemistry and biology, she dreamed of changing the world.

"She was murdered last Wednesday by the radical Jihadi terrorist group Hamas. A Hamas rocket slammed into her home in central Israel killing her and her father."

Guterres urged all sides to return to talks aimed at a two-state solution. But at the meeting, those two sides looked farther apart than ever before.