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UN in Gaza crisis meeting

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With criticism mounting of UN inaction in the Gaza conflict, envoys from all 193 countries of the United Nations will meet to hear top officials report on the crisis.

The Wednesday meeting of the UN General Assembly was requested by Arab countries pushing for a toughly-worded resolution to be adopted by the Security Council.

Top UN officials will brief ambassadors including Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, who has said Israel’s offensive in Gaza could amount to war crimes.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Pierre Krahenbuhl, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Middle East envoy Robert Serry and the head of humanitarian relief in Gaza, Kyung-wha Kang, are also to speak to the assembly, the Ugandan presidency of the General Assembly said on Monday.

The move by Arab countries to push for a General Assembly meeting on Gaza follows growing criticism the Security Council has failed to take a strong stand to press Israel and Hamas to stop the fighting.

International alarm has grown over the soaring death toll, with more than 1800 Palestinians killed, mostly civilians, since the conflict began on July 8. A total of 67 Israelis have died.

Jordan has circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but the document has yet to come up for formal discussion.

The 15-member Council adopted a statement on July 27 calling for a ceasefire and expressing support for Egypt’s mediation efforts after the United States dropped its reservations that such a text would single out Israel.