Pillay alarmed by death toll in Mideast

Nov. 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A U.N. rights official said Tuesday she welcomed Israeli pledges that civilians weren't the target of force in Gaza but expressed dismay over casualties.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was "dismayed" by the growing number of civilian deaths in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Her office said the civilian death toll has more than doubled in since Sunday as a result of Israeli military action.

Tensions escalated following an Israeli strike that killed a top Hamas defense official. Israel said it was put on the defensive given the increasing number of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israeli.

Washington has maintained Israeli has a right to self-defense. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, was quoted by daily newspaper Today's Zaman as saying "no state in the West" can justify Israeli action.

Arab broadcaster al-Arabiya, meanwhile, reports that it's obtained some details regarding a possible cease-fire. Israel, according to the deal, must stop targeting the leadership of Hamas while Hamas and its supporters agree to stop their attacks on border areas.

The Egyptian government, though it's State Information Service, said the administration of President Mohammed Morsi was working at a "feverish" pace to help negotiate a truce in neighboring territory.

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