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Palestinians seek UN action after Israeli strikes

Written by: Staff

United Nations, Apr 11: The Palestinians yesterday urged the UN Security Council to take unspecified action against Israel for intensifying its military strikes on Palestinian targets.

''The international community cannot continue to stand idly by while defenseless women, children and men continue to be killed, wounded and maimed,'' Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour said.

The 15-nation council, ''in upholding its duty to maintain international peace and security, should take action,'' Mansour said in a letter to Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, the Security Council president for April.

Mansour said Arab states were meeting to discuss strategy and might call on the council to hold an open debate or adopt a text on the volatile Middle East situation.

Wang told reporters he would consult his council colleagues before deciding on a response to Mansour's request.

Israel suspended formal security ties to the new Hamas-led Palestinian government today in what Hamas said amounted to ''a declaration of war.'' Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza, protesting Western aid cuts and a spike in Israeli military operations since Hamas took control of the Palestinian Authority in late March after winning a January election.

Mansour said Israeli forces since last Friday had killed at least 18 Palestinians, including a 6-year-old boy, and had injured many more. Among its recent attacks were three targeted assassinations in Gaza, in which Palestinians were killed by missiles or rockets fired from military aircraft.

Hamas is sworn to destroy Israel but has largely abided by a year-old cease-fire that other militant groups have ignored.

Israel says it reserves the right to conduct extrajudicial killings of Palestinian militants bent on carrying out attacks targeting the Jewish state. It says it has been shelling Gaza to combat militants' rocket attacks on Israeli territory.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement over the weekend expressing concern about the increasing violence on both sides, including rocket attacks on Israeli targets and Israeli reprisals.


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