The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Wednesday voiced its strong condemnation of the escalation of the Israeli military aggression in the Gaza Strip and called upon Israel to end the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
The NAM statement came as Abelardo Moreno, the Cuban UN ambassador, was speaking at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on the Gaza conflict in his capacity as chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the NAM.
The UN Security Council resumed its open meeting on the Gaza conflict on Wednesday morning after Israel suspended its 12-day-long military offensives on Gaza for three hours to let in food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians there. Hamas militant also said that they were temporarily holding their firing of rockets into southern Israel, reports said.
NAM "strongly condemns the escalation of the military aggression being carried out by Israel, the occupying power, in the Gaza Strip," Moreno said. "NAM is gravely concerned by and condemns in particularly the launching of the Israeli ground operation in Gaza in flagrant defiance of the calls by the international community for a cessation of military activities and of the regional and international diplomatic efforts to resolve the current crisis."
"NAM expresses its deep regret at the loss of innocent life" as a result of the ongoing Israeli military attacks against the Strip, which killed more than 600 Palestinians and injured 3,000 others, he said.
"The movement reiterates that this unacceptable Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip constitutes a grave breach of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, fuels the cycle of violence and threatens international peace and security as well as the fragile peace process between the two sides," he said.
"The movement expresses grave concern about the deepening humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza as a result of the current military actions, the continued closure of border crossings and the obstruction of access to humanitarian aid, including food and medicines, and the reduction of fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip by Israel," he said.
"In light of the gravity of this crisis, NAM expresses its deep disappointment at the inability of the Security Council to uphold its responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security," he said. "Despite more than a week of sustained military attacks that have gravely affected the civilian population and heightened instability and tensions in the region, the council has regrettably been unable to take any concrete measure to end the aggression."
"Once again, the movement requests the Security Council to act urgently to address the gave situation," he said.
The 15-nation UN body adjourned its open session on Tuesday night with an intensified international diplomatic drive to push for an early end to the violence and bloodshed in Gaza and southern Israel. Israel launched the military assaults on Gaza on Dec. 27, 2008 to retaliate for the firing of rockets into southern Israel by Hamas militants.
Arab countries Tuesday presented to the Security Council a draft resolution calling for an immediate end to the fighting.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas was at the UN Headquarters in New York Tuesday to renew his appeals for the Security Council to adopt the proposed draft resolution, jointly hammered out by Libya, the only Arab member on the Security Council, and a team of Arab foreign ministers led by Secretary-General Amr Mussa of the League of Arab States.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an open Security Council meeting Tuesday that he intended to travel to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory next week as well as to regional capitals. "But I do not believe we can wait until then to end the violence. We must achieve that now," he said.
The draft resolution still meets with a strong objection from the United States, which blocked the approval of a Security Council statement to demand an immediate and durable ceasefire in the region, Palestinian diplomatic sources said here.