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Old 07-13-2014
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Default Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas asks UN for international protection in Gaza

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has asked the United Nations to put the state of Palestine under "international protection" due to the worsening violence in the Gaza Strip.

At least 166 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza in the seven days of conflict between the two sides, while more than 1,000 have been injured.

No Israelis have been killed so far, although militants in Gaza have pounded the country with nearly 700 rockets since the fighting began, with a further 170 intercepted by the Jewish state's Iron Dome defence system.

For the first time since the current conflict began, Israeli ground troops entered Gaza on Sunday in a brief raid against a rocket launch site on the coast.

They came under fire from Hamas and four Israeli navy commandos were wounded, but there is no sign yet of a more extensive ground invasion.

Israel says a ground invasion of Gaza remains an option, and it has already mobilised more than 30,000 reservists to do so, but most attacks have so far been from the air, hitting about 1,200 targets in the territory.

"Israel went deeper in everything and its offensive on the Palestinian nation should be stopped," Mr Abbas said.

The president has presented a letter, addressed to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, to UN special envoy Robert Serry.

He met with Mr Serry on Sunday (local time) in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"The Palestinian leadership is in a continuous meeting, in particular the joint command of the executive and central committees," Mr Abbas said.

"Today they took a decision to call for international protection for the Palestinian lands and nation."

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed receipt of the letter.

"We ... will need to study it before responding further," Mr Haq said in a short statement in New York.
Hamas to blame for Gaza civilian casualties: Netanyahu

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas, the Islamist group which runs the Gaza Strip, was to blame for all civilian casualties in Gaza, as he defended Israel's use of air strikes to counter rocket attacks from the territory.

Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Mr Netanyahu told CBS's Face the Nation that Israel would not quit until it had achieved "sustainable quiet and security for our people".

"We use whatever means are necessary to defend our people, as would the United States or any other government faced with such a predicament," he said when asked about whether Israeli ground forces would go into Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu argued that Hamas was to blame for any civilian casualties because it was embedding rockets and command posts "in homes, hospitals, next to kindergartens, mosques".

"So naturally, they are responsible for all the civilian deaths that occur accidentally," he said.

"We're sorry for any accidental civilian deaths, but it's Hamas that bears complete responsibility for such civilian casualties."
International pressure increases to end conflict

International pressure on both sides for a return to calm has increased, with the UN Security Council calling for a cessation of hostilities and Western foreign ministers due to meet to weigh strategy.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said Mr Abbas also wanted a commission of inquiry into Israel's relentless air bombardment of the Gaza Strip aimed at halting militant rocket fire into the Jewish state.

The president has asked Switzerland, the depository of the fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in wartime, to ask signatories to place sanctions on Israel which as the occupying power is responsible for the safety of civilians.

Senior PLO member Mr Ashrawi said that when Arab League foreign ministers meet in Cairo to discuss the Gaza crisis, Palestinian leaders will ask for an adoption of "a draft resolution at the ministerial level" to be presented to the UN Security Council.

The Palestinians would also seek an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council "to deal with the grave conditions in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and international humanitarian law".

The UN says more than 10,000 people have already sought refuge in its installations.

Hamas has urged the residents to return or stay put, calling Israel's warning about a ground invasion psychological warfare.

But Mr Netanyahu says Hamas is using the residents of Gaza as human shields.
Clashes erupt during protests in Paris

Meanwhile, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters rallied in Sydney on Sunday, calling for an end to Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Waving placards and chanting "free, free Palestine; free, free Gaza," the crowd of between 2,000 and 3,000 people occupied the steps of Sydney Town Hall for hours in a rowdy but peaceful protest.

In Paris on Sunday, clashes erupted as thousands of people protested against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip.

Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read "Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People".

But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas.

Meanwhile, between 2,300 and 6,000 people protested peacefully in the northern city of Lille, according to differing figures provided by the police and organisers.
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gaza , israel , palestine , u.n.

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