Palestinian youths take cover during clashes with Israel troops in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Jerusalem - The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations said on Tuesday that more than 140 people have been killed and more than 950 injured in the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour gave the toll in a letter to the UN Security Council in which he again demanded that the 15-member body meet to condemn the Israeli action launched to stop militant rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Security Council held talks late on Tuesday to discuss a demand by Arab nations that it hold a public meeting on the crisis.

Western diplomats had expressed fears that comments made at an open meeting could harm efforts to reach a ceasefire, but they agreed to hold the meeting on Wednesday at 20.00 GMT.

Mansour said the 140-plus dead from the seventh day of the Israeli air strikes include “many children.” Five Israelis have been reported killed in rocket attacks from Gaza over the week.

Hamas authorities have spoken of 136 dead in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Mansour said the Security Council had to “shoulder its (UN) charter responsibilities and act to stop this onslaught against the Palestinian people.”

The United States earlier blocked a proposed Security Council statement calling for a halt to hostilities between Israel and Hamas. A US letter said the proposed statement “failed to address the root cause” of the showdown which it said was the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. - AFP