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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 23:07 GMT
Tutu to lead Beit Hanoun mission
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. File photo
Mr Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984
The UN says Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu will lead its fact-finding mission into Beit Hanoun where 19 Palestinians died in Israeli shelling on 8 November.

Mr Tutu - the former archbishop of Cape Town - will report back to the UN's Human Rights Council in December.

The mission aims to "recommend ways to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli attacks", the UN says.

Israel has said the strike, which hit a civilian area in the Gaza Strip town, was due to a "technical failure".

Mr Tutu - the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid in South Africa - will present his findings by the middle of December, the Geneva-based council said.

Funeral procession in Beit Hanoun on 9 November 2006
Many of the dead were from one extended family

Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution that condemned "gross and systematic" human rights violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories and ordered an inquiry into the Beit Hanoun incident.

Most of the victims were from one extended family. Several children and women were among the dead.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has described the killings as a massacre, and demanded intervention by the United Nations.

Israel launched its operation in and around Beit Hanoun last month in an effort to root out militants firing rockets.

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