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UN rights council condemns Israel attacks in Gaza Strip

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) [official website] Thursday condemned [press release] Israel's most recent offensive in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] in a resolution passed by the seventh session [HRC materials] of the HRC. The resolution, which was introduced by Pakistan and other Muslim countries, likened Israel's attacks to collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and called for an immediate cease fire by both sides. The HRC passed the resolution by a vote of 33-1, with Canada casting the sole dissenting vote. Thirteen Council members abstained from voting.

On Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] called on Israel [press release; JURIST report] to conduct an impartial investigation into the deaths of Palestinians during the attacks. In January, Arbour criticized [JURIST report] an Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying that the Israel's policy of collective punishment, disproportionate use of force and targeted killings had helped precipitate problems in the area. Israeli troops began to withdraw from Gaza Monday after an incursion last week, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [JURIST news archive] warned that strikes would continue [Haaretz report] against local Hamas targets. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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