UNITED NATIONS - Palestine on Wednesday called upon the UN Security Council to take action to put an immediate end to Israel's latest military strikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation to rocket firing by Palestinian militants.
Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, made the statement as he was speaking to the press here shortly after the UN Security Council concluded a 90-minute closed-door meeting on the Israeli offensive.
"Almost every one who spoke in the Security Council wanted the slaughter and aggression against our people to be stopped and to be stopped immediately," Mansour said. "This is the objective of this meeting this evening."
Both Palestinian and Israeli representatives were invited to speak at the closed-door council meeting along with 15 members of the most powerful UN body, which, under the UN Charter, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, briefed the council on the situation of the Israeli military action in Gaza.
The conflict between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has been escalating in recent days. On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile against a patrol jeep of the Israeli Defense Forces, wounding four soldiers.
In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force carried out several airstrikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza and killed Ahmed al-Jaabari, head of Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, and his escort on Wednesday. A large number of Israeli troops amassed along the border, possibly for a ground invasion.
In return, more than 150 rockets and mortar shells were launched by Hamas into southern Israel.
As Mansour was speaking to reporters in New York, he was flanked by a dozen of Arab UN ambassadors, a gesture to show the Arab countries' solidarity with the Palestinians against the Israeli military action.
"As you see, we have a large delegation of Arab ambassadors to transmit the message that each and every one of them was ready to be led by our president for this month, the ambassador of Sudan and also the representative of the Arab Group at the Security Council, the ambassador of Morocco," he said.
"Our message (to the Security Council) was that this aggression has to stop and it has to be stopped immediately," he said.
The UN Security Council, instead of adopting a statement, is expected to issue a communique, which will be its first response to the latest Israeli military offensive, Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian UN ambassador who holds the rotating council presidency for November, told reporters here late Wednesday.
"If this aggression (is) to stop tonight, then the mission of the Security Council was partially accomplished," Mansour said. "If it is not, we will come back to the Security Council again and again with the desire to see a product adopted."
"We will not spare any effort...to stop the killing of innocent civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip," he said.
"If the Israelis do not listen to this message, the Security Council will be engaged again and again with different products available to us, including a draft Security Council resolution."
Earlier Wednesday, Mansour told reporters that the Palestinian Authority is coordinating its actions with the Arab League and Egypt.
The Palestinians have indicated they will seek observer state status in the world organization at the end of this month. It would open the way to membership in other UN entities.
Israel's permanent UN representative Ron Prosor said Wednesday's offensive was in response to Palestinian militants "indiscriminate rocket firing" into southern Israel.
"Israel will do whatever it can to defend our citizens," Prosor said.