UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel's ambassador to the United Nations called actions by Iran, Syria and Palestinian leaders "declarations of war," but the Palestinian envoy said Israel's attacks on Gaza were inhumane and violated international law.

The two diplomats on Monday opened a U.N. Security Council debate that included some 35 speakers. The session had been scheduled before Monday's Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, in which nine people were killed and 60 wounded.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian U.N. observer, Riyad Mansour, echoed the condemnation made by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. The Hamas-led Palestinian government has not made similar comments.

"We restate our condemnation of the loss of innocent lives, Palestinian and Israelis, and we call upon the occupying power to do the same," Mansour told the council.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said every day fundamentalist leaders were inciting acts of terrorism.

"A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority," Gillerman said.

"These recent statements are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value."

He said Iran and Syria harbored and financed Hamas and Lebanon's Hizbollah group, citing comments from Hamas leaders based in Syria, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

But Iran's U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, told the council Gillerman had made "irresponsible claims." He said that daily threats by Israel required "urgent and serious attention by the council" which at minimum should demand that Israel desist from resorting to force.

Iran, itself under the gun for its nuclear program, said Israel already had atomic weapons despite its "unprecedented record of state terrorism."


Arab and African delegates backed Mansour's condemnation of what he called Israel's "excess and indiscriminate force against Palestinian civilians," particularly those in Gaza that he said killed 15 to 21 civilians, among them two children.

In the past week, Israel has bombarded targets in Gaza, from where militants often fire home-made rockets into Israel. The death toll is the highest since Israel pulled out of Gaza last August and September after 38 years of occupation.

The meeting was called after the United States last week refused to agree to a compromise statement on Israeli military strikes in Gaza, saying the draft was "disproportionately critical of Israel."

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on Monday said he regretted the loss of life, including in Gaza, but that the responsibility for preventing terror attacks "rests with the Palestinian Authority."

"The United States has noted reactions by several terrorist groups including Hamas that defend -- and even applaud -- the act of terror in Tel Aviv today, as we have noted President Abbas's quick denunciation of it," he said.

Britain's deputy ambassador, Adam Thomson, told the council it was "very disappointing" that the Hamas-led Palestinian government did not condemn the Tel Aviv bombing but "sought to justify this senseless, abhorrent, and counter-productive action." But he also said that Israeli rocket attacks were "unacceptable" close to residential areas that resulted in civilian deaths.

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