By George Whitten, Worthy News Jerusalem Bureau Chief
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News) – The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution calling for an "immediate cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip. The United States abstained in the vote as the council passed the resolution 14-0. However, Israel continued a military offensive Friday, January 9, saying it has an obligation to protect its citizens, including one million Israelis who face threats from rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas militants.
Early Friday, January 9, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a statement that, "The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens." Olmert said the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would continue operations "in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation."
He added that, "This morning's rocket fire against residents of the south only proves that the UN Security Council Resolution 1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations."
United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice recalled late Thursday, January 8, that “Some 18 months ago, Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip in a coup and, since then, thousands of guns, rockets and mortars had been smuggled into the territory." She said Hamas had refused to extend the “period of calm” and "its continued armament was a root cause" of the current situation and had "gravely endangered" the residents of both Gaza and southern Israel. “Hamas’s commitment to violence is not only an attack on Israel, but also on the two-State solution,” she said.
Rice made clear that “There would need to be a principled resolution also of the political challenges in Gaza that re-established the Palestinian Authority’s control, including over borders; facilitated the normal operation of Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings; and, in time, the opening of other crossings." She said the United States supported President Mahmoud Abbas "as he carried out his responsibilities towards the establishment of a State of Palestine.”
In response to the U.N. resolution, Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said, “Israel, when in left Gaza in 2005, had hoped it would never have to return. However, after eight years of continuous rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization, Hamas’ refusal to extend the period of calm, and its smuggling of weapons during that period, had left Israel with no choice but to act in self-defense. Responsibility for the current hostilities lay squarely with Hamas. "
Shalev said, "The international community must focus its attention on the cessation of Hamas’ terrorist activities. Any arrangement must be fully respected and secured, including the total cessation of rocket fire and smuggling, in order to be durable and to allow the possibility of lasting peace.”
Echoing the sentiments of the ambassador, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, “Israel is acting and will act only according to its interests and the security of its citizens and its right to self-defense."
However not all diplomats agree, saying hundreds of Palestinians, including many women and children, have died in Israel's military operation. Late Thursday, January 8, the U.N. blamed Israel for an attack on a U.N. convoy killing the driver. The incident was being investigated by the IDF, the Israeli military said.