UN Human Rights Council to Hold Emergency Session as Palestinian Death Toll Exceeds 500
  • Mon, 07/21/2014
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21 July 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Council said it would hold an emergency session on Israel's two-week-old offensive in Gaza on Wednesday at the request of Egypt, Pakistan and the Palestinians.

Two weeks of rocket attacks and days of ground assaults have left at least 550 Palestinians dead, more than 3,150 wounded, and tens of thousands driven from their homes.

Israel says it launched the offensive to halt rocket attacks by Palestinian militants into its territory.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has previously said Israeli strikes on Gaza may break international laws banning the targeting of civilians.

Israel, which accuses the U.N. Human Rights Council of bias, boycotted the Geneva forum for 20 months, resuming cooperation in October.

The request was signed by envoys from Egypt on behalf of a diplomatic grouping of Arab countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations.

Egypt's request, made on behalf of the Arab Group of countries, was backed by the requisite minimum of 16 member states of the 47-member forum, including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has criticized Israel's ground offensive in Gaza, labeling it "an atrocious action."

The U.N. Security Council called for an immediate halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip at an emergency session Sunday evening, but stopped short of considering a draft resolution that would have called for Israeli forces to withdraw from the territory.

Meanwhile, despite the rising death toll, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Monday he is prepared to continue the offensive "as long as necessary" to halt rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza on Israelis.

Sources:

"UN rights forum to hold emergency session on Gaza" The Independent Ireland July 21, 2014

"Kerry, UN chief head to Cairo to negotiate Israel cease-fire" Fox News July 21, 2014

Stephanie Nebehay, "U.N. rights forum to hold emergency session on Gaza - statement" Reuters July 21, 2014

"U.N. Rights Council Calls Meeting on Gaza Conflict" Naharnet Newsdask July 21, 2014