Thursday, January 15, 2009

Israel under fire as UN General Assembly meets on Gaza

Israel under fire as UN General Assembly meets on Gaza

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The General Assembly on Thursday kicked off an emergency session with its president accusing Israel of violating international law by pressing on with its deadly military assault on the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli delegate sought to block the session on procedural grounds by arguing that under the UN Charter, the 192-member assembly cannot inject itself on a matter already being tackled by the powerful Security Council.

But the Israeli complaint was dismissed and the assembly president, Nicaragua's Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, opened the session which was requested by the 118-member UN member states which make up the non-aligned movement.

D'Escoto noted that the Security Council last week called for a Gaza ceasefire leading to the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

But he pointedly added that the Israeli offensive, launched to stop rocket firing by Palestinian militants and now in its 20th day, was continuing, with 1,073 Palestinians killed and at least another 5,000 wounded, according to Gaza medics.

"Gaza is ablaze. It has been turned into a burning hell," D'Escoto said. "The violations of international laew inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented: collective punishment, disproportionate military force. Attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools."

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