Palestinians seek U.N. inquiry into Israel assault on Gaza

GENEVA (Reuters) - Palestinians asked the United Nations on Tuesday to investigate into "all violations" of human rights and humanitarian law that they say have been committed by Israel during its military offensive in Gaza.

The draft resolution is to be debated by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday at an emergency session also requested by Egypt and Pakistan.

The Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations seeks to have the 47-member forum "urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry ... to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014 ..."

Israel began air strikes against the Gaza Strip on July 8 and launched a ground offensive on Thursday to halt rocket fire out of the territory.

Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and United Nations diplomats pursued talks on halting the fighting.

Palestinian civilians in densely-populated Gaza have no place to hide from Israel's military offensive and children are paying the heaviest price, U.N. agencies said.

Some 600 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 29 Israelis, 27 of them soldiers, have died so far in the conflict, now in its third week.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has previously said that Israeli strikes on Gaza may break international laws banning the targeting of civilians. She is to address Wednesday's session which starts at 1000/0800 GMT.

Israel, which accuses the Council of bias, boycotted the Geneva forum for 20 months, resuming cooperation in October.

The United States also accuses the Council of bias and says that Israel should not be singled out at regular sessions.

Twenty-one member countries and 16 observer states - across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America - formally endorsed the call for an emergency session, but neither the United States nor any European country joined them.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)