Thursday, January 15, 2009

UN holds emergency Gaza debate

UN holds emergency Gaza debate
Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann has been a vocal
critic of the Israeli offensive [Al Jazeera]

The UN General Assembly has begun an emergency session on the Gaza crisis, with its president accusing Israel of violating international law by continuing its military offensive, in which almost 1,100 Palestinians have been killed.

Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann described the situation in Gaza as a "burning hell" and accused Israel of carrying out attacks on civilian targets.

"Gaza is ablaze. It has been turned into a burning hell," d'Escoto said at the UN in New York on Thursday.

"The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented: collective punishment, disproportionate military force [and] attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools."

Offensive continued

An Israeli delegate had sought to block the session on procedural grounds by arguing that under the UN charter the 192-member assembly could not rule on a matter already being tackled by the Security Council but the move was dismissed.

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

Israel has continued its offensive regardless of the resolution and the resolution was also rejected by Hamas.

On Tuesday, d'Escoto, a former Nicaraguan foreign minister, told Al Jazeera Israel's killings of Palestinians in Gaza amounted to "genocide".

Almost 1,100 Palestinians have been killed during Israel's Gaza offensive, which Israel says is to stop Palestinian rocketfire coming from Gaza.

Earlier on Thursday, officials said that UN relief agency building in Gaza had been hit by Israeli shells and set ablaze.

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