United States refuses to support a text drafted by China, Tunisia and Norway that calls for "cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, especially children," diplomats say.

Firefighters try to extinguish fire after Israeli warplanes hit coastland in Gaza City, Gaza on May 17, 2021.
Firefighters try to extinguish fire after Israeli warplanes hit coastland in Gaza City, Gaza on May 17, 2021. (AA)

The United States has blocked –– for the third time in a week –– the adoption of a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to Israeli-Palestinian fighting and the protection of civilians, diplomats said.

The text drafted by China, Tunisia and Norway and calling for the "cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, especially children" was submitted late on Sunday for approval on Monday by the Council's 15 members. 

The United States indicated that it "could not currently support an expression" by the Security Council, one diplomat told AFP news agency. 

The text, obtained by AFP, voiced the Council's "grave concern" at the Gaza crisis and its "serious concern" regarding the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, opposing "unilateral actions" likely to further escalate tensions.

The draft also welcomed international efforts to de-escalate the situation, without reference to the United States, and reiterated the Council's support for a negotiated two-state solution allowing Israelis and Palestinians to "live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders."

The Security Council has held three emergency meetings on the escalating violence in the past week, the latest on Sunday, without reaching a common position –– with Israel's main ally the United States accused of obstructionism.

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UNGA to meet on Thursday 

Meanwhile, as the fiercest Israel raids on Gaza in the region in years entered a second week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all sides to protect civilians, while Washington, Egypt and UN mediators stepped up efforts to end the fighting.

UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said the 193-member body will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation.

Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll since the hostilities flared last week at 212, including 61 children and 36 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

Hamas that governs Gaza also gave no sign that an end to resistance was imminent. Its fighters fired rockets at the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod, and medics said seven people had been injured.

At least seven Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza on Monday by early evening, including two that died in a missile attack on a seven-storey office building in Gaza City, medics said. 

The intensity of Israeli strikes has tended to increase after dark.

"My children couldn't sleep all night even after the wave of intensive bombing stopped," said Umm Naeem, 50, a mother of five, as she shopped for bread in Gaza City.

On the edge of Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp, firefighters tried to put out fires caused by an Israeli artillery shell to a sponge factory. Vast clouds of smoke filled the skies.

Workers cleared debris from wrecked buildings from the streets and tried to repair damaged telephone and electricity lines. People also searched through the rubble of ruined buildings to retrieve belongings.

READ MORE: Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza enters second week

Hamas forced to act after Israeli violence 

Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday in response to forcible expulsion of several Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police's violence towards Palestinians near the city's Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Palestinians have also become frustrated by setbacks to their aspirations for an independent state and an end to Israeli occupation in recent years.

There were calls from occupied West Bank for Hamas to act militarily, many analysts say. 

Gaza's rockets are mostly repurposed handmade weapons in comparison to Israel's military might which gets over $16 billion for defence spending and $3.8 billion from the US in annual funding.

Western diplomacy 

Meanwhile, US envoy Hady Amr, appointed by President Joe Biden last week, met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, and Blinken said US officials had been "working around the clock" to bring an end to the conflict.

"The United States remains greatly concerned by the escalating violence. Hundreds of people killed or injured, including children being pulled from the rubble," he said after talks with Denmark's foreign minister in Copenhagen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged an end to the fighting in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, a German government spokesman said, and France and Egypt said they would continue efforts for a ceasefire.

The United States said on Sunday it had made clear it was ready to offer support "should the parties seek a ceasefire".

But while the devastation in Gaza was likely to make it harder for Israel to expand its ties with Arab countries, Gulf states that invested in opening ties with Israel last year are showing no public sign of second thoughts.

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No let-up in attacks

Brigadier General Yaron Rosen, a former Israeli air division commander, gave no indication on Monday there would be a let-up in attacks.

"The IDF (Israeli military) can go with this forever. And they (Hamas) can go on with their rockets, sadly, also for a very long time. But the price they are paying is rising higher and higher," he told reporters.

The Israeli military said Gaza had fired about 3,150 rockets over the past week. Israel's missile defence system intercepted most of them, it said.

The unrest in Israel's mixed Jewish and Palestinian towns opened a new front in the conflict, with the Israeli president warning of civil war between Israel's Jewish majority and 21 percent Palestinian Muslim minority.

General strikes against the Gaza strikes were planned for Tuesday in Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank and Palestinian towns within Israel.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies