U.N. rights forum to hold emergency session on Gaza (UPDATE)

Arab-Israel Relations Materials 21 July 2014 17:37 (UTC +04:00)

(Details added - first version posted at 15:14)

The United Nations Human Rights Council said it would hold an emergency session on Israel's two-week-old offensive in Gaza on Wednesday at the request of Egypt, Pakistan and the Palestinians, Reuters reported.

Palestinian officials say more than 500 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since Israeli air and naval bombardments began on July 8, followed by a ground push on Thursday.

Israel says it launched the offensive to halt rocket attacks by Palestinian militants into its territory.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has previously said Israeli strikes on Gaza may break international laws banning the targeting of civilians.

Israel, which accuses the U.N. Human Rights Council of bias, boycotted the Geneva forum for 20 months, resuming cooperation in October.

The request was signed by envoys from Egypt on behalf of a diplomatic grouping of Arab countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations.