GENEVA (AFP-5/3/2008)–-The United Nations Human Rights Council will convene a special debate on the situation in Gaza on Thursday, the council’s president said.
Muslim, African, Arab and nonaligned countries all requested the debate in a letter to the council’s president and Romanian ambassador, Doru Romulus Costea.
They asked that, in view of recent events, "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories to be discussed as soon as possible".
In order to slot in the debate, the presentation of the annual report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has been pushed to Friday.
The 47-member U.N. council was formed in late 2006 to replace its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission.
But like the commission, the HRC has come under fire by mainly Western countries for focusing too much on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It has criticized Israel four times in special sessions during the first year of its existence.
The U.N. Security Council Sunday condemned the violence at Gaza and in the south of Israel, which Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon had described as an " extremely alarming escalation."
The Israeli army ended Monday an operation code-named "Hot Winter" in the Gaza Strip which killed more than 125 people in a week, in a bid to stop rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.
However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the army will continue its attacks against the Islamic movement Hamas, which took control of the territory in June.