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On 1 March, the Council members held on emergency meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East, where the Israel Defense Forces had launched air and land attacks on targets in Gaza and Palestinian militants had fired dozens of rockets at targets in southern Israel, including the city of Ashkelon.
When speaking at the meeting the Secretary-General condemned the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, which had claimed dozens of civilian lives.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Churkin, in his capacity as the Council’s President, read out a summary of the discussion that had been agreed upon by all 15 members.
Voicing deep concern about the loss of civilian life and the escalation of violence in the region, the Council members called on all sides to respect their obligations under international law and to immediately cease all acts of violence. Those acts must not be allowed to deter the political process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at establishing two States — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security.
On 6 March, the Council held urgent consultations to discuss the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. Members of the Council condemned the shooting in the religious seminary, but failed to reach a consensus on a reaction concerning that terrible incident.
On 25 March, the Council held an open debate on the Middle East. When briefing the Council on that occasion, the Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned about the prospect of renewed violence in Gaza and southern Israel, and what that would mean both for the civilian population in the conflict zone and for the peace process.
He added that the peace process was too important to be allowed to lose momentum through inaction or indifference, or to be overwhelmed by violence.
The Council heard also a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He regretted that, over the past month, continuing efforts to advance the political process were once again overshadowed by violence, high numbers of civilian casualties and the lack of concrete improvements on the ground. But he added that the very fact that the political process between Israelis and Palestinians continued was extremely important.
The Under-Assistant Secretary-General also said that the international community and all regional parties should give strong support to efforts to bring about a cessation of violence in and around Gaza and a reopening of crossings, in an atmosphere where the security concerns of the Palestinians, Israel and Egypt were addressed.