UN Rights Body Holds Moment of Silence for Gaza 'Martyrs'

Iranian FM calls for recognition of women and children in Gaza who are 'under attack by the Zionist regime.'

GENEVA (AP) - The United Nations Human Rights Council held a moment of silence Tuesday for martyrs in Gaza killed in an Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Strip, after a request by Iran's foreign minister.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for the gesture on behalf of the women and children who are "nowadays under attack by the Zionist regime," the term Iranian officials use for Israel because they do not recognize its right to exist.

"I would like ... to request one minute silence and ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to read the Fatah for those martyrs in Gaza," he asked the council president, referring to the opening verse in the Koran.

The room was silent for about 30 seconds. Those present said no one stood.

Israel's UN ambassador in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, said, the news is that the international community did not respond and all the members of the Human Rights Council remained seated. He said he would have stood himself if the silence had been devoted to victims of Iranian human rights abuses.

The U.S. mission in Geneva said it had no comment on what happened.

The council, created in 2006, is dominated by a bloc of African and Islamic countries, and has denounced Israel in a series of resolutions. The body has no power beyond international scrutiny.