The United States and Russia led international calls for a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to allow aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, as Israel maintained its bombardment of the enclave where Palestinians are living in harrowing conditions.
A total of 704 Palestinians, including 305 children, were killed on Tuesday, the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said, a toll the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said was the highest reported in a single day since the conflict began nearly three weeks ago.
Reuters could not independently verify these figures.
Israel launched the strikes on Gaza after Hamas militants attacked southern Israeli towns on Oct. 7 in a rampage that killed 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
World leaders are now seeking to prevent the conflict from spreading across a region key to global energy supplies.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed on broader diplomacy “to maintain stability across the region and prevent the conflict from expanding,” the White House said.
Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani told the Security Council on Tuesday that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had attempted to wrongly blame Iran for the Israel-Hamas war.
“Our commitment to regional peace and stability remains unwavering,” he said. “The U.S. has further exacerbated the conflict by overtly aligning itself with the aggressor at the expense of the innocent Palestinian population.”
Arab states firmly back a call for a humanitarian ceasefire amid widespread destruction of Gaza’s buildings. “We followed with regret the inability of this council twice to adopt a resolution or even to call for a ceasefire to end this war,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the council.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
(Inputs from Reuters)