Gaza bloodbath: Barak vows wider operation as UN calls for calm
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday that the military operation against Palestinian rocket squads would broaden, and reiterated earlier comments that a major ground offensive was a real and imminent option. "We are not happy about it, we won't shy from it," Barak told Israel Radio. "There are many considerations about the timing," he said.
Barak spoke a day after 63 Palestinians two Israeli soldiers were killed in an operation in the Strip.
The Israeli minister said in a separate interview on Israel Army Radio: "This is not the broad ground operation, but whoever says there will not be a big ground operation speaks on his own behalf."One aim of any broad incursion into the Hamas-run territory would be to "weaken the Hamas rule, in the right circumstances even bring it down," he said.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council on Sunday called on Israel and armed Palestinian groups to cease fire in Gaza Strip after the U.N. secretary-general condemned what he called Israel's "excessive" use of force.
"Members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in southern Israel and Gaza and condemn the escalation of violence," the council said in a statement read by Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, the council's current president. "These events underscore the need for all parties to immediately cease all acts of violence," the statement, cited by Reuters, said.
"While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an emergency session of the council. "I call on Israel to cease such attacks," he said.
According to Ban, there had been 26 Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel on Saturday alone. "I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism," he said.
On his part, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said Israel's actions, including the closure of all border crossings into Gaza, were "war crimes."