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Israeli force disproportionate, U.N. says

A Palestinian looks at the destroyed Al-Saraya headquarters in Gaza City November 22, 2012, a day after a cease fire was declared between Israel and the Islamic Palestinian movement. The Egypt-brokered truce took hold in the Gaza Strip after a week of bitter fighting between militant groups and Israel, with both sides claiming victory but remaining wary. UPI/Ismael Mohamad
A Palestinian looks at the destroyed Al-Saraya headquarters in Gaza City November 22, 2012, a day after a cease fire was declared between Israel and the Islamic Palestinian movement. The Egypt-brokered truce took hold in the Gaza Strip after a week of bitter fighting between militant groups and Israel, with both sides claiming victory but remaining wary. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | License Photo

CAIRO, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Israeli response to the most recent conflict with Hamas, which controls Gaza, was "grossly disproportionate," a U.N. official said.

Richard Falk, a U.N. special envoy appointed to address human rights issues in the Palestinian territories, said following a weeklong visit to the region that he saw evidence to suggest Israeli forces may have deliberately attacked civilian targets.

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"It is clear that some attacks killed and harmed civilians in a grossly disproportionate manner and thus appear to violate international law," he said in a statement from Cairo.

The U.S. government stood by Israel during the November offensive. Both sides stressed that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks emanating from Hamas-controlled territory in Gaza.

The U.N. General Assembly, in a late November vote, backed a resolution that gave Palestinians more recognition at the world body. Palestinian negotiators said the move would help facilitate the peace process, though the Israeli and U.S. governments said the resolution was an obstacle.

Israel was criticized recently for moving ahead with plans to extend settlement activity in Palestinian territory. The Jerusalem Post reports Wednesday the European Union summoned the Israeli ambassador to address settlement concerns.

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