U.N. rights council hits Israel over Gaza

GENEVA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The United Nations Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states and their allies, condemned Israel on Monday for "grave violations" of human rights of the people of Gaza.

A resolution drafted by Arab, Asian and African countries also called for the urgent despatch of an international mission to investigate Israeli behaviour in the enclave, and called on Israel to cooperate with it.

But the non-binding resolution, passed by 33 votes with 13 abstentions and one against, was dismissed by Israel as one-sided and reflecting the "fairytale world" of the 47-member Council, for which the Jewish state is a prime target.

The text of the document said the Council "strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operations... which have resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure."

The resolution, whose wording diplomats said had been softened at the request of Palestinian envoys in an effort to get a consensus in the Council, was opposed outright by Canada while European countries, Japan and South Korea abstained.

The United States is not a member of the Council and took no part in the discussions.

Canada complained that the text, which called for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces, failed to recognise that Israel had acted to stop rocket attacks on its territory from the Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Germany, speaking for European Union members on the Council, said they would abstain for the same reason.

However, the resolution also called for an end to "launching of the crude rockets against Israeli civilians that resulted in the loss of 4 civilian lives" but noted that Israeli attacks had brought some 900 Palestinian deaths and injured around 4,000. In the earlier debate on the resolution, Pakistan, speaking for the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), denounced what it called Israel's "unrestrained use of force, killing of innocent civilians" and violation of U.N. havens.

The resolution was backed by Russia, China and Latin American states on the Council including Argentina and Brazil. (Editing by Jonathan Lynn)