UNSC to hold special session on Mideast fighting

The new UN Human Rights Council will convene in special session later this week in a move initiated by an Islamic organization to condemn Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon, officials said Tuesday. The council, which in a similar session last month voted 29-11 to deplore Israel's military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is to "consider and take action on the gross human rights violations by Israel in Lebanon," according to the request filed by Tunisia on behalf of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. The statement said the council should also consider the July 30 Israeli air strike on the Lebanese town of Kana, which killed 28 people, as well as "countrywide targeting of innocent civilians and destruction of vital civilian infrastructure." Marie Heuze, chief spokeswoman in Geneva for the United Nations, said the council would meet either Thursday or Friday. The session was called because 16 countries - more than the requisite one-third of the 47-member council - backed Tunisia's request for the special session. Non-Arab countries signing the petition included China, Cuba, Russia and South Africa.