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Israel’s top envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan: ‘This is Israel’s 9/11’

Israel’s top envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan compared Hamas strikes against Israeli soldiers and civilians to al-Qaeda’s attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. He called this attack “Israel’s 9/11″.

The ambassador made a statement ahead of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The envoy called on the Israeli’s to refrain from a forceful response. According to him, this would cause civilian deaths on both sides.

Mr Erdan showed journalists photographs of Israeli civilians captured by Hamas. He said:

This is Israel’s 9/11 and Israel will do everything to bring our sons and daughters back home. These are war crimes; blatant, documented war crimes. Now is the time to obliterate Hamas’s terror infrastructure, to completely erase it, so that such horrors are never committed again.

They marked one of the biggest failures of American intelligence, in addition to the fact that the 11 September attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Mr Erdan called on the international community to condemn the actions of Hamas and to give Israel its full support.

Also addressing reporters was Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, who implored the international community to pressure Israel to abandon its use of force and embrace a path to peace “where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed”. He said:

This is not a time to let Israel double down on its terrible choices. This is a time to tell Israel it needs to change course, that there is a path to peace where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed.

Mr Mansour said when it came to violence, Israel should be held to the same standards as the Palestinians. He added:

You cannot say, ‘Nothing justifies killing Israelis’, and then provide justifications for killing Palestinians. We are not subhumans. Aren’t Palestinian lives worth saving?

Saudi-Israel deal

Mr Erdan announced a possible deal that would result in Israel and Saudi Arabia establishing official relations for the first time. Work on this deal has been under way for months. Some analysts believe that Saturday’s Hamas attack was intended to disrupt this deal. Erdan said:

There doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason why normalisation between Israel and Saudi Arabia should be off the table. There are moderate countries in our region that seek peaceful coexistence, and Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly among them.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood called for condemnation of the Hamas attack before the start of a closed-door Security Council meeting. He accused Iran of actively working to prevent an agreement from being reached. He told reporters:

I expect to hear from the other council members very strong condemnation of these heinous acts of terrorism committed against the Israeli people and their government.

At the end of the Security Council meeting, which centred on the crisis, UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh noted the need for all Council members to use international and bilateral channels to promote calm and de-escalation. The Ambassador stressed that the focus should be on the protection of civilians on both sides. Ms Nusseibeh noted that some members of the Council had raised the need to find a political way forward.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s top UN envoy said the Security Council did not consider the joint statement because some member states, including Moscow, sought a broader agenda than condemning Hamas. Mr Nebenzya said:

My message was to stop the fighting immediately and to go to a ceasefire and to meaningful negotiations.

In parallel to the Security Council meeting, a rally was held in New York’s Times Square under the slogan “Free Palestine”. At the rally, demonstrators expressed their support for the Palestinians. On the other side of the street, Israelis, separated by a metal fence set up by police, expressed their opposition by waving flags and shouting “Shame on you!”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the rally in solidarity with Palestinians as “disgusting and morally repugnant” and ordered that landmarks in the US state be lit up in blue and white, the colours of the Israeli flag.

One of the organisers of the demonstration, Munir Attalah, a member of the Palestinian youth group, said he joined the protests because the people of Gaza “refuse to die quietly and we are here to support the right of the occupied people to resist the occupation.” He claimed:

What we saw yesterday was the people of Gaza breaking out of their open-air prison.

In a dramatic assault launched from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza on Saturday, Hamas militants stormed into Israeli towns, killing more than 600 people and escaping with dozens of hostages, in the deadliest day for Israel since the 1973 war.

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