News With famine looming, aid group halts food delivery in Gaza after Israeli strike kills 7 workers

NEW YORK CITY: Israel must bear the full responsibility for the consequences of its attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, and Iran reserves its right to deliver a “decisive response to such reprehensible acts,” Tehran’s deputy permanent representative to the UN told members of the Security Council during a meeting on Tuesday.

“Iran has exercised considerable restraint but there are limits to our forbearance,” said Zahra Ershadi.

On Monday, an Israeli airstrike destroyed Iran’s Consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing 12 people, including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. At least six Syrian citizens were also killed by the strike.

Ershadi called on the Security Council to condemn the attack, which she said “goes beyond mere criminality and represents a profound affront to the shared principle of the inviolability of representatives and diplomatic and consular premises.”

The envoy accused Israel of escalating and perpetuating the conflict in Gaza while evading accountability while it “kills civilians and uses starvation as a method of warfare.”

She continued: “Israel’s primary concern is to use force to advance its apartheid policies, ethnic-cleansing, genocidal acts, and military objectives in Gaza at all costs.

“The absence of accountability and the Security Council’s inaction has only encouraged this regime to continue its violations unchecked.”

Ershadi also accused the US of bearing responsibility “for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime.”

US ambassador Robert Wood reiterated that Washington has communicated to Iran that it “had no involvement” in the strike on the consulate, nor did it have any knowledge of it ahead of time.

“We cannot confirm any information about this event,” he said, adding that “as we gather details, one thing is clear: Iran and its proxy and partner groups need to avoid escalating tensions in the region.”

Wood said that since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the US has repeatedly warned Iran not to take advantage of the situation by escalating its “longstanding proxy war against Israel and other actors,” but Iran has ignored that warning.

“Terrorists and other armed groups, some backed by the Syrian regime and Iran, have used Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks on Israel and US facilities and personnel,” he added.

He warned that US authorities “will not hesitate to defend our personnel, and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of this situation to resume their attacks on US personnel.”

Wood also expressed his sadness and grave concern about the recent Israeli air strike that hit a World Central Kitchen aid convoy.

“This incident is yet a further reminder that Israel needs to do much more to protect humanitarian personnel and facilities in Gaza,” he said. “It is unacceptable and inexplicable that nearly six months into this conflict, Israeli military deconfliction mechanisms are not functioning appropriately.”

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, who had called for the emergency meeting of the Security Council, said he condemned the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus in the strongest terms, and stressed that it followed a trend of escalating Israeli attacks on Syrian soil and other neighboring countries.

“We’re of the view that such aggressive actions by Israel are designed to further fuel the conflict,” he said. “They are absolutely unacceptable and must stop.

“We urge West Jerusalem to abandon the practice of provocative acts of force in the territory of Syria and other neighboring countries, which is fraught with extremely dangerous risks and consequences for the entire region, a region that is already destabilized as the results of the six-month escalation of violence around Gaza.”

Nebenzia warned council members that should they fail to condemn attacks on diplomatic premises then “next time, the diplomatic mission of any state could be targeted by an air raid.”

Slovenia’s permanent representative to the UN denounced “attacks on diplomatic premises, that are unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

Samuel Zbogar expressed his country’s profound concern about the spillover effects of the war in Gaza across the region, which has already “had a strong impact on the situation along the Blue Line and in the Red Sea,” and he called on all parties to show restraint.

“It should be in no one’s interest to have further dangerous escalation in the Middle East,” he added. “Any of the geographically separated but ultimately intertwined crises could take on a life of their own.

“People of the region have suffered enough and this includes people in Palestine, Israel, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere. We should all place their interests first, and this is why it is crucial for this council to send a clear call for restraint by all, starting with compliance with Resolution 2728, demanding a ceasefire.”

China’s deputy ambassador, Geng Shuang, strongly condemned the attack “of an extremely vicious nature” on Iran’s consulate and reaffirmed the inviolability of diplomatic institutions.

Since the conflict in Gaza began in October, Geng said, there have been attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, humanitarian facilities, UN agencies, “and today attacks on diplomatic premises. The red line of international law and the basic norms of international relations have been breached time and again, and the moral bottom line of human conscience has been crushed time and time again. Such a situation, such a tragedy must stop immediately.”

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