Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said he hoped for a Security Council meeting very soon on "Operation Protective Edge," the Gaza assault launched Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In a letter to various UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, Mansour asked for a resolution to protect Palestinians and hold those responsible for the attacks to account.
The UN Security Council responded within hours, confirming that UN Secretary-General Ban would brief the 15-member body on Thursday at 10 a.m. local time in New York (1400 UTC).
The IDF has struck about 600 targets since Tuesday. Militants have fired more than 200 rockets from the Gaza Strip, with about 50 of those intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system, and with no fatalities reported.
"We have decided to further intensify the attacks on Hamas and the terror organizations in Gaza," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying Wednesday, after consulting with defense chiefs. Israel has also threatened a ground invasion.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, the military wing of the Palestinian political faction Hamas announced that it had "launched three M75 rockets at Dimona," a nuclear reactor in the Negev desert. The IDF announced that two of the missiles had missed their target, landing in open areas, and a third was intercepted by Iron Dome.
According to a spokeswoman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Netanyahu on Wednesday that "there is no justification" for the rocket attacks from Gaza.
Since "Protective Edge" began, about 50 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, the majority civilians. Palestinian officials said the dead included at least nine children. The attacks have wounded about 400 other people.
President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel had waged "war in every sense of the word against the Palestinian people." He added: "To kill an entire family, is it not collective punishment? This is called genocide."
The United States has urged de-escalation. At a briefing Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken earlier in the day with Netanyahu and planned to also talk to Abbas "over the next 24 hours."
"We are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides," Psaki said.
mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP,dpa, AP)