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S. African Tutu to Head UN Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza


The United Nations says Desmond Tutu of South Africa is to head a U.N. fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip.

The president of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Luis Alfonso De Alba said the Nobel Laureate will travel to the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun to probe the deaths of 19 Palestinians by Israeli shelling earlier this month.

In other news, Egypt's intelligence chief met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to discuss a possible exchange of prisoners between Israel and the Palestinians.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to discuss the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process Thursday. She is to meet separately in the region with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In Geneva, the U.N. human rights chief, Louise Arbour, criticized what she called a lack of accountably for human rights violations by both the Palestinians and Israelis.

She said Israel has the right to protect itself from Palestinian rockets, but also urged Israel to investigate situations where it has used deadly force, such as the shelling in Beit Hanoun.

Palestinian sources say the Palestinians and Israelis have yet to agree on the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel would free in exchange for an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Palestinian militants in late June.

The kidnapping triggered a five-month Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip. Scores of Palestinians were killed before a ceasefire took effect in Gaza on Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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