At UNSC, PA envoy blames Israeli diplomat for UN casualties in Gaza

Erdan has relentlessly attacked U.N. officials and member states for their one-sidedness and seeming indifference to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

By Mike Wagenheim, JNS

The Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday accused his Israeli counterpart of inciting violence against U.N. staff during a volatile meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

The session, serving as the regularly-scheduled monthly council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file, came hours after Algeria circulated a resolution to bring a stop to Israel’s military operation in Rafa city in southern Gaza.

Majed Bamya, the P.A.’s deputy U.N. ambassador, told the council that the death toll incurred by U.N. staff in Gaza has been partially caused by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador.

Erdan has relentlessly attacked U.N. officials and member states for their one-sidedness and seeming indifference to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre and the plight of the hostages held in Gaza since, equating those positions with support of terrorism.

Bamya said such rhetoric signals to soldiers and “extremists” that the United Nations “is an enemy and thus a legitimate target,” pointing to UNRWA’s recent accusation that “Israeli residents” had set fire to the perimeter of the agency’s eastern Jerusalem headquarters.

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Meanwhile, Anna Evstigneeva, deputy U.N. ambassador for Russia, vocalized support for Algeria’s resolution, saying that the council “must continue to put pressure on Israel, as well as on its ally, the United States.”

She went on to state that, “Attempts by the Israelis to hype up and publicize the topic of sexual violence and the supposed involvement of UNRWA staff in the Hamas attack of the 7th of October have backfired.”

After visiting Israel and Palestinian-controlled territories in Judea and Samaria, a U.N. official “was not able to confirm the most vile accusations by Israel,” she added.

The statement referred to a March report by Pramila Patten, the the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence and conflict.

Patten wrote that there is “clear and convincing” evidence that Gazan terrorists committed sexual violence, including rape, against hostages in Gaza, and that there were “reasonable grounds” to conclude that terrorists raped and gang-raped Israeli women in multiple locations on Oct. 7.

Israel’s deputy U.N. envoy Jonathan Miller hit back at what he called the “parroting” of “biased reports” and “false charges” against Israel by council members.

Israel was fully cooperating on humanitarian access to Gaza, he said, urging council members to “stop taking the side of terrorists.”

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Israel is fighting a “just and moral conflict” in Gaza, which is picked apart by council members while they ignore Hamas atrocities, he continued.

Israel’s terms for ending the war include the release of the remaining hostages and Hamas laying down its arms, he said.

South Africa, which has accused Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice, asked the Security Council on Wednesday to implement the recent ICJ ruling on the Israeli military’s operation in Rafah.

Amar Bendjama, Algeria’s U.N. envoy, told the council he hoped Algiers’ short resolution “can gather the support of everyone in this council. We need a united council.”

He claimed that waiting for Israel “to voluntarily abide by international law and Security Council resolutions is pointless.”

Bendjama’s calls were echoed by French U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, who said that the council “must call for an end” to the Rafah offensive.

And while James Kariuki, the United Kingdom’s deputy U.N. representative, said that London “strongly condemn Hamas’s actions to put civilians at severe risk by using them as shields,” he put the onus on Israel to “take care to limit operations to military targets and to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects in line with international humanitarian law.”

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Kariuki also came out against “a major military operation in Rafah without an acceptable plan to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain there,” claiming the United Kingdom has “seen no such plan.”

Israel has evacuated nearly one million noncombatants from Rafah, most to the nearby Al-Muwasi humanitarian zone.

Algeria’s resolution is likely to be brought up for a vote in the coming days.

Robert Wood, U.S. deputy ambassador to the UN, speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, said of the resolution that “Any kind of additional product on the situation right now probably is not going to be helpful. It’s not going to change the situation on the ground.”

While not outright stating that the United States would veto the measure, Wood said, “We want to continue to support the effort to get that agreement on hostages and further aid to get in. So, that’s where our efforts are focused. The resolution—we’ve seen it and we’ve sent it back to Washington and I’ll just leave it at that for the moment.”