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UN rights council passes resolution condemning Israel occupation of Gaza

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council [official website] on Monday adopted a resolution [text, PDF] condemning the Israeli occupation in Gaza [press release] and demanding the immediate withdrawal of military forces. The council also decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate possible human rights violations. The resolution passed 33-1, with 13 abstentions. Canada was the only dissenting vote. The resolution comes after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] Friday called for an independent investigation [statement text; JURIST report] of possible war crimes and human rights violations in the ongoing conflict [BBC materials] between Israel and combatants in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Amnesty International USA [advocacy website] criticized the US insufficiently responding to the Gaza crisis [press release; JURIST report] in a letter [text, PDF] sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official Profile]. Late last month, militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired more than 80 rockets and mortars into southern Israel [AFP report], hitting private residences, public buildings, offices, and other populated areas. The Israeli government responded by filing two letters of complaint [text; second letter text] with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and warned militants that they would pay a "heavy price" [AP report] if attacks continued. Both letters of complaint, sent by Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Gabriel Shalev, cited Article 51 [text] of the United Nations Charter, which provides that a Member-State may act in self-defense in the face of an armed attack until the UN Security Council has taken the steps necessary to maintain international peace and security.

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