UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will hold a virtual public meeting on Sunday (May 16) to address the soaring violence between Israel and the Palestinians, diplomats said Thursday.
The United States, which had blocked an originally scheduled Friday session and proposed a meeting early next week, agreed to move the session - requested by Tunisia, Norway and China - to Sunday, the same sources said.
The United States said earlier Thursday it wanted to give time for diplomacy.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asked about the scrapping of Friday's session, had said the United States was not blocking a meeting but wanted to hold it later.
"We are open to and supportive of an open discussion at the United Nations," Blinken told reporters in Washington.
"I think we're looking at early next week. This, I hope, will give some time for the diplomacy to have some effect," he said, before the meeting was set for Sunday.
The United States, Israel's key ally, has defended the Jewish state's deadly offensive in response to rocket fire from Palestinian movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.
But President Joe Biden's administration has also voiced alarm over civilian casualties and earlier pushed Israel to hold off on evictions of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the immediate trigger for the flare-up.
Blinken spoke on Wednesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, and a senior State Department official, Hady Amr, was en route on Thursday to the region.
The United States is seeking "an end to the violence which continues to claim the lives of innocent children, women and men", Blinken said.
"We've been very clear that rocket attacks must cease," he said.
Security Council sessions, held by videoconference due to the pandemic, require support of all 15 members.
Early Friday, Israel bombarded Gaza with artillery and air strikes as part of the ongoing operation against Hamas, the military said.
"Israeli planes and troops on the ground are carrying out an attack in the Gaza Strip," the Israeli army said in a brief message, although it later clarified there were no boots on the ground.
More than 100 people in Gaza have been reported killed since Monday - including 27 children - and more than 580 people wounded as heavy bombardment has rocked the crowded coastal enclave and brought down entire tower blocks.
Inside Israel, seven people have been killed since Monday, including one six-year-old, after a rocket struck a family home.