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U.S. supported Israel in UN security meeting, but urged allowing more aid into Gaza

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Tempers flared at the U.N. Security Council as Arab leaders and Palestinians called on diplomats to press Israel to stop its bombardment of Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there should be more outrage focused on Hamas, which started this latest round of violence with an unprecedented attack on Israel. But the U.S. is nudging Israel to consider ways to get more aid to Palestinians, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been calling for a pause in the fighting to allow more aid to get into Gaza. And he's telling the Security Council that civilians must be protected. It was a message both to Hamas and to Israel.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONIO GUTERRES: Protecting civilians can never mean using them as human shields. Protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than 1 million people to evacuate to the south, where there is no shelter, no food, no water, no medicine and no fuel, and then continuing to bomb the south itself.

KELEMEN: While he condemned what he called the appalling attacks by Hamas that set off this cycle of violence, he said this did not happen in a vacuum, pointing to Palestinian resentment of decades of Israeli occupation. Israel's foreign minister, Eli Cohen, was furious, calling this victim-blaming. He cancelled his meeting with Guterres, compared Hamas to the Nazis and rejected calls for a cease-fire.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELI COHEN: How you can agree to a cease-fire with someone who swore to kill and destroy your own existence? How? The proportional response to October 7 massacre is a total destruction to the last one of the Hamas.

KELEMEN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the council the world should help Israel defeat terrorism, though he also suggested that Israel consider humanitarian pauses to allow more aid into Gaza. And the secretary urged U.N. members to help contain this conflict by sending clear messages to Iran and its proxies, who he says have attacked U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONY BLINKEN: If you, like United States, want to prevent this conflict from spreading, tell Iran, tell its proxies in public, in private, through every means, do not open another front against Israel in this conflict. Do not attack Israel's partners.

KELEMEN: Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Al Safadi, said there are real fears that this conflict could spread.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AYMAN AL SAFADI: There's the threat of this expanding into the West Bank, into Lebanon, into other fronts. None of us want that. We're all working against that.

KELEMEN: But flanked by other Arab foreign ministers, the Jordanian official warned that the danger will continue as long as there are images of death and destruction in Israel's bombardment of Gaza. Hamas is still holding more than 200 hostages there, including Americans and other nationalities. Some family members of the hostages were at the U.N. today, too, calling on countries to pressure Hamas to free them. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.