United Nations: The UN Security Council resolution seeking immediate ceasefire in Gaza failed to bring an end to violence, with Israel pressing ahead with its offensive and Hamas continuing to fire rockets, even as top UN officials intensified diplomatic efforts in the region.
Both Israel and Hamas virtually ignored the resolution on Friday, even as the death toll in Gaza was nearing the 800 mark in the two-week old military action by Tel Aviv in which 10 Israeli soldiers were also killed.
With its reputation and credibility on line, UN officials were intensifying contacts with leaders in the region but so far without any success.
Meanwhile, the UN said it is resuming suspended aid distribution for thousands of Palestinians as soon as possible after receiving credible security assurances from “the very highest levels” in Israel.
The operations were suspended on Wednesday following an Israeli attack that killed a UN contract driver and injured a second despite receiving Israeli clearance.
Secretary-general Ban Ki moon, who spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on phone and expressed his disappointment over the rejection of the UNSC resolution, apparently did not get any positive response.
Olmert, facing elections within a month and conducting a “popular war”, had described the resolution “unworkable” and Hamas had said it was not consulted.
Hamas fired at least 30 rockets and Israel was considering whether to bring in reserve soldiers to expand the offensive, taking it to cities and towns in Gaza.
On another front, the Egyptian initiative, backed by France, appeared to have hit the rocks and other international efforts made little headway.
Israelis are demanding complete cessation of firing of rockets by Hamas and international monitoring to ensure that it is not able to smuggle weapons from Egypt via tunnels.
Egypt, however, is uncomfortable with allowing foreign monitors into the country though it is not averse to technical assistance.
Hamas, on the other hand, wants an end to Israeli offensive, withdrawal of all its forces and permanent opening of all crossings between Gaza and Israel to allow humanitarian aid to flow in on regular basis.
It contends that by closing the crossings and denying humanitarian supplies, Israel is trying to suffocate Gazans.
Facing mounting international criticism, Israel stopped fire for three hours for the third consecutive day to allow Gazans get humanitarian supplies and buy other necessities and to flee to what are considered to be safer areas.
But UN officials said the pause was too little, though it helped reduce tensions for sometime.
Asked what Ban is doing to get the Council resolution implemented, his spokesperson Michele Montas said he is working through diplomatic channels but declined to give details, citing sensitivity of the issue.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which had on Friday suspended food delivery to 750,000 Palestinian refugees after an Israeli attack that killed a UN worker, announced it will resume supplies soon after receiving assurances from Israel.