Ambassador Masood Khan, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN. –APP File Photo

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has strongly condemned Israel's new anti-Palestinian offensive in the Gaza Strip, and has urged the Security Council, which met in a private emergency session on Wednesday night, to demand an immediate cessation of its military action, according to Council sources.

Ambassador Masood Khan, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the 15-member Council that the deadly Israeli offensive of more than 20 airstrikes in Gaza in which Hamas's military commander was among the 11 people killed, threatened international peace and security, the sources said.

“Grave developments today in Gaza portend to threaten international peace and security. The Council must play its part in arresting this trend,” he added.

After the closed-door meeting that lasted nearly 90 minutes, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who is the president of the Council for this month, said the upshot of the discussion was to seek de-escalation of the situation and to try and diffuse the tensions.

He said that a statement would be issued soon.

In his remarks, the Pakistani envoy condemned the targeted killings as well as Israeli missile strikes against civilian areas in Gaza, which have killed a number of Palestinians, including a seven-year old girl.

“These are senseless killings,” he is understood to have told the Council. The Israeli retaliation is excessive, the response disproportionate.”

Khan said excessive use of force by Israel on peaceful protesters in a number of Palestinian cities was unacceptable. “Israel should exercise restraint. The firing of rockets from Gaza should also stop.”

“The international community should step in. The Security Council should ensure that hostilities cease forthwith and further escalation is arrested, without caveats and qualifications,” he said.

“The Security Council must urge Israel to immediately cease its military action and guarantee protection of the civilian population,” he added.

“This escalation is not in the interest of Palestine, Israel, the Quartet or the larger international community who are all striving to work for peace and stability, not for death and destruction,” Khan said.

Arab nations also demanded the UN Security Council to condemn Israel's deadly attacks on Gaza at an emergency meeting late Wednesday, but the United States has strongly defended Israel's military strikes.

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