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UN rights chief calls for ceasefire in Gaza

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday urged [press release] all involved parties to end the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and Southern Israel and to respect obligations to protect civilians under international law. Pillay expressed extreme concern over the continued use of indiscriminate Palestinian rocket fire taking place over the past week and the resulting increased aerial attacks by Israeli forces on populated areas of the Gaza strip. Pillay's statement echoed that of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website], who on Monday called for an immediate cessation [press release] of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. The violence began to escalate on Wednesday with the killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari [Huffington Post backgrounder] in a targeted air strike [NYT report] by Israel Defense Forces. The next day Palestinian forces responded with rocket fire [Reuters report] aimed at multiple Israeli cities and towns. Pillay's statement urged a deescalation of hostilities and lamented the the loss of human life on each side of the violence. Both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are signing members [materials] of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 [text] committing to the protection of civilians in times of military conflict.

Earlier this week Pillay visited Indonesia where she urged the government to end violence and discrimination [JURIST report] against Christians and Muslim minorities. Pillay commended Indonesia for ratifying several international human rights treaties and for progressing in its democratic transition but stressed the need to end targeted discrimination in the country. Last week Pillay urged South Sudan to reverse an expulsion order [JURIST report] against a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] staff member, claiming the government has given no good reason to support the order. Earlier in November Pillay expressed concern that the Chinese government is suppressing Tibetans' freedom of expression [JURIST report] and that the government is using excessive force against peaceful protestors, with Pillay calling on China to remedy long-held frustrations in Tibet that have led to recent extreme protest tactics, and urging Tibetans to not resort to self-immolation or other extreme protest measures.

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