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UN Urges Israel to Ease Palestinians' Plight


The United Nations Human Rights Council is urging Israel to take steps to ease the plight of Palestinians.

The council approved a report on Tuesday, calling on Israel to improve the conditions of Palestinian prisoners and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip, among other measures.

A U.N. official for human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, issued a stronger rebuke in a statement, saying the International Criminal Court should investigate the situation in Gaza, likening Israeli policies to a "crime against humanity."

Israel reopened its border crossings with Gaza on Tuesday, to allow trucks transporting humanitarian aid into the territory.

The Israeli military said it allowed in some 40 trucks carrying food, medical supplies and cooking gas as well as fuel for Gaza's power plant.

Israel had tightened its blockade of the territory since a series of cross-border rocket attacks last month.

Also on Tuesday, Israel allowed a small boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists to sail to Gaza from Cyprus. The group brought in humanitarian supplies and also transported a Palestinian man who has been separated from his family in Gaza for several years.

Israel and Egypt closed their borders with Gaza for most traffic after the Hamas militant group took control of the territory last year.

In other news, a United Nations spokeswoman, Michele Montas, on Tuesday announced that the "quartet" of Middle East peace negotiators and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet at the U.N. in New York on December 15.

The quartet is made up of the European Union, Russia, the U.N. and the United States. The group has strongly backed peace talks that were launched in Annapolis, Maryland last year, even though few expect an agreement by the end of this year, as originally planned.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.