Aid Groups Urge Look at Rights Violations in Gaza

U.N. Puts Aid Efforts on Hold for 2nd Day

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GENEVA, Switzerland, JAN. 9, 2009 ( A coalition of Catholic groups is urging the United Nations to investigate violations of international law committed by both sides in the Gaza-Israel conflict.

In a statement today from Caritas Internationalis, the aid organization reported that in conjunction with Dominicans for Justice and Peace, International Young Catholic Students on Peace-Building, and Pax Romana, they wrote to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council appealing for an investigation.

The joint statement urges all parties to protect the lives of civilians and to enforce international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

«We are calling on the Human Rights Council to investigate and to assess the human rights violations and the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israel,» said Father Robert Vitillo, the leader of the Caritas international delegation in Geneva. «We are calling on Israel to end indiscriminate collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza and stop their excessive use of force. We are urging Hamas to end their unlawful rocket attacks on civilians in Israel.»

They further urged international cooperation in ensuring the protection of civilian populations in Gaza and Israel, especially the most vulnerable, in accordance with international law.

The Catholic organizations, like the United Nations itself, are calling for an immediate ceasefire to get humanitarian relief into Gaza and to protect human life. The United Nations put aid deliveries to Gaza on hold for a second day due to safety concerns after an aid truck driver was killed Thursday by Israeli fire.

Caritas spokesman Patrick Nicholson explained to ZENIT that while Caritas has not suspend its aid efforts, it and other agencies depend on the United Nations to get aid through to the areas in need.

Neither Israel nor Hamas are respecting a call made by the U.N. on Thursday night for an immediate ceasefire. News reports put the Palestinian death toll of the two-week conflict at 777, half of whom are civilians.

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