Israel continues bombing Gaza despite UN ceasefire call

The UN Security Council resolution calls for an 'immediate ceasefire,' followed by an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, amid warnings about a worsening humanitarian situation.

Hatem Moussa/AP
BOMBARDMENT: Despite UN calls for an immediate ceasefire, Hamas and Israel continued to exchange fire on Jan. 9. An Israeli airstrike destroyed thisbuilding in Gaza City.

Israel continued its assault on Hamas forces in Gaza Friday, despite the passage of a UN Security Council resolution calling for "an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire."

Reuters reports that despite the resolution, Israel gave no indication that it would heed the UN's call for a cease-fire.

Reuters adds that the Friday attacks by the Israeli air force targeted Gazan rocket construction facilities and launch sites, according to an Israel Army official.

The Associated Press reports that the UN resolution, which passed the Security Council 14 votes to 0, calls for "an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza." The United States, Israel's principal ally, abstained from the vote, though US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US "fully supports" the resolution.

The AP notes that over the past week, French and Egyptian officials proposed terms for a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. Although Israel indicated receptiveness to the proposal, Hamas rejected it on the grounds that it would undermine Gazan resistance efforts.

The UN resolution comes amid mounting concerns over the humanitarian conditions in Gaza. The Washington Post reports that on Thursday, 100 survivors were rescued from Zaytoun, a residential neighborhood in Gaza that had been bombed by Israeli forces. The Israeli army prevented aid workers from access to the area for four days, and relief organizations say they are worried that more people are trapped there.

The BBC reports that Israel has also been the target of criticism from Amnesty International, which accused it, as well as Hamas, of using Palestinian civilians as human shields in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Amnesty International says that Israeli troops have forced civilians to remain in their homes after taking them over as bases, while Hamas regularly endangers civilians by launching attacks from their homes. The Geneva Conventions prohibit the use of civilians to "shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations."

Relief agencies are not the only groups that have had their access to Gaza limited by the Israeli military. The Los Angeles Times reports that Israel has carefully controlled the media's access as well, and has been conducting a carefully orchestrated "media offensive" to present "a unified message" and "drive a wedge in Arab public opinion."

The Times adds that a "key aspect" of Israel's media campaign is "preventing foreign journalists from entering Gaza to report on the conflict firsthand."

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