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Protection Of Palestinian, Israeli Civilians Urged

UN rights expert urges protection of Palestinian, Israeli civilians

17 April 2008 - An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on the United Nations to do its utmost to protect the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, after some two dozen people were reportedly killed in the latest round of violence to engulf the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.

"Surely it is not too much to ask of the Security Council, and if it cannot act, the Secretary-General, to protect human life," John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said in a statement issued today.

Mr. Dugard, who reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, also called on the UN to play its role as international mediator to encourage dialogue among all the parties.

"It is the responsibility of the United Nations, as the ultimate guardian of human rights and international peace, to open lines of communication between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and to bring them to the negotiating table," the Special Rapporteur stated.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his grave concern at the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, urging all parties to the Middle East conflict to exercise restraint.

ENDS

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