U.S. President calls for peace in Gaza

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a permanent end to hostilities in Gaza based on the 2012 ceasefire agreement. In a phone call, he called for an “immediate” and “unconditional” ceasefire and said that “ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza”, says a White House announcement.

The phone call was prompted by Israel’s renewal of its offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after Palestinian rockets were fired. Shortly after Israeli military operations resumed yesterday, Hamas offered to return to a previous United Nations-backed cease-fire agreement that took effect on July 25.

On his part, Mr. Netanyahu accused Hamas of violating the agreement and gave no indication that military operations would stop.

The conflict is now nearing the end of its third weeks and is the third such major military showdown between the two sides in less than six years.

An emergency session of the United Nations Security Council took place from just after midnight on Monday with the 15 members of the panel adopting a declaration calling for a ceasefire to the conflict that has cost the lives of around 1,030 people and at least 200 children. They called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire”.