WASHINGTON - Iran’s foreign minister has called for an ‘immediate end’ to Israel’s bombing of Gaza and criticized the United States for not restraining its most important Middle Eastern ally.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a taped interview with US broadcaster NBC to air Sunday, urged Washington to use the United Nations to stop the Israeli strikes. ‘It is extremely regrettable that people are being killed,’ the envoy said in the interview taped Friday in Vienna, where he is to take part in international talks on Tehran’s nuclear program.
‘Almost a hundred people have been killed, over 500 have been wounded in Gaza and the United States is not taking any action,’ Zarif said. ‘We know that all the weapons that are used by Israel in order to attack civilians in Gaza have been provided by the United States and we don’t see any move by the United States to condemn that, to use the Security Council in order to put an end to it,’ he added.
‘We call for an immediate end to all these activities,’ he said, as the P5+1 group of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany gather in the Austrian capital this weekened to try to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Zarif added that, in Iran’s view, Israel’s actions ‘are putting civilians in jeopardy in Gaza,’ and said the the members of the UN Security Council ‘have a moral and legal responsibility’ to intervene. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned Saturday that escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would cost more ‘innocent lives,’ as the death toll climbed to 127 Palestinians. Sisi’s spokesman said the government was in touch with both sides after the president met Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Cairo.
‘The president warned of the dangers of military escalation, and the casualties it would cause among innocent civilians,’ the spokesman said. Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 22 people Saturday, bringing to 127 the toll on the fifth day of violence, according to officials on the ground. The air strikes are in response to the firing by Hamas of rocket into Israel, which have not caused any deaths.