November 15, 2012 - 12:00am

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Palestine on Wednesday called on the United Nations and its Security Council to take a stand on Israel's latest strikes on the Gaza Strip in a bid to "ensure that the international peace and security is maintained in our region."

Riyard Mansour, Palestine's permanent observer to the United Nations, made the statement to the press here shortly after he delivered a letter to Hardeep Singh Puri, India's UN ambassador who holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for November.

"The situation is explosive. We condemned the Israeli strikes in the strongest term," Mansour said, adding "They are opening a war on us."

Mansour said he also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Vuk Jeremic, president of the UN General Assembly, over Israel 's military offensive on Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

"Our understanding that the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza so far is nine and the number is increasing and there is a large number of people injured," Mansour said.

The Israeli air force, after killing Hamas military leader in an air raid, on Wednesday continued striking Hamas targets, including its long-range rocket sites, in the Gaza Strip, while a large number of Israeli troops have amassed along the border for a possible ground invasion.

The conflict between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip had escalated over the past days. On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile against a patrol jeep of the Israeli Defense Forces, wounding four soldiers. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force carried out several air strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza, to be answered by more than 150 rockets and mortar shells launched into southern Israel.

On his meeting with Security Council president, Mansour said, " I asked him that this situation is threatening international peace and security and we expect the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility in order to ensure that international peace and security is maintained in our region."

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council, the most powerful UN body, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the world at large.

"We will continue engaging members of the Security Council especially the president in the next few hours and during the night in order to respond appropriately to this latest aggression in the Gaza strip," Mansour said.

According to him, the Palestinian Authority is also coordinating its actions with the Arab League and Egypt.

On the intention of the Israeli military action, Mansour said, "Of course, the Israeli aggression is, as you know, synchronized with our efforts of asking the GA (General Assembly) to act on our draft resolution on the 29th of this month."

"They are now opening a war against our people in the Gaza strip in order really to divert attention from the efforts in the GA," he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday that the Palestinians are set to present their bid for the status of an observer state to the United Nations on Nov. 29.

"We have made continuous efforts to win a majority all over the world for our bid," Abbas said when asking for help from all Arab countries.

The Palestinian bid for a full UN membership last year failed as they did not garner support at the Security Council due to strong opposition from the United States, a veto-wielding permanent council member.

In response, Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations Ron Prosor on Wednesday defended his country's military offensives on Gaza by accusing the Palestinian militants of " indiscriminate rocket firing" into southern Israel. "Israel will do whatever it can to defend our citizens," he said.

"This is something that the State of Israel and the government of Israel has a responsibility to defend citizens," Prosor said. "I want to tell you very clearly that men, women and children of Israel for the previous three weeks have been under this constant attack and this is the reason that Israel reacted today and will continue to defend its citizens if those things continue from Gaza. "

"I've been calling the Security Council and the international community to stand up and condemn to indiscriminate rocket fire against Israel and Israeli civilians day in and day out," he said. "This is a situation in which no country, no government can live with."


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