Calls for protection of civilians as Israel-Palestine conflict mounts


The international community has called for the protection of civilians caught in the crossfire as violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants intensifies.

More than 212 people, including 61 children, have died in Gaza, and 10, including two children, in Israel as the conflict now enters its second week, with little sign of a ceasefire.

Footage of children being pulled from the rubble in Gaza and people running for shelter in Israel has sparked international alarm.

Israel says most of those killed in Gaza are militants and that any civilian deaths are unintentional as Israeli leaders vowed to keep up their campaign.

Hamas, the militant group that runs the territory, does not acknowledge this.

Sirens were sounding again on Monday night in Israel, with rockets incoming in the south and north, close to the Lebanese border.

There is mounting international concern over the violence, with world leaders and humanitarian organisations urging for measures to be taken to avoid residents being hurt, killed, or having their lives upended by the destruction.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Israel must avoid civilian causalities, but expressed concern that “Hamas is again using civilian infrastructure and populations as cover for its operations”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged both sides to protect civilians, especially children, while reiterating that Israel “as a democracy has an extra burden” to do so.

The United Nations has also expressed concerns about the damage to infrastructure in the already impoverished Gaza Strip, home to two million people. It said that 40 schools and four hospitals had been “completely or partially destroyed” in recent days. It also warned that fuel supplies there were running out, threatening basic services.

The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Mike Ryan, said all attacks on healthcare needed to stop immediately.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for an end to the fighting, while speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, she reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against the attacks, according to her spokesman.

France and Egypt are among the other nations calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The outbreak in violence began after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, which controls Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes. (Source: BBC)