U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said an end to Hamas rocket fire was the only means of preventing an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
“Today we face the risk of an all out escalation in Israel and Gaza with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing,” Ban said Thursday at a Security Council session on the latest outbreak of hostilities.
Ban’s casting of the responsibility for ending the conflict principally on Hamas was unusual for a U.N. official.
Palestinian and Israeli representatives addressed the session of the council, the only body with decisions that have the force of international law.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, played the sound of a warning siren during his address. “Imagine having only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter,” he said. “Now imagine doing it with small children or elderly parents or an ailing friend.”
Israel launched a counteroffensive on Thursday after an intensification of rocket fire. More than a hundred Palestinians have been killed so far in strikes by Israeli combat aircraft on suspected terrorist targets.