In a statement to the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Friday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Council to take a stand on the ongoing Israeli incursion into Palestinian civilian areas that has claimed 40 lives thus far.

He urged Israel and the Palestinian resistance to "pull back from the brink for the sake of all civilians in the region", calling on Israel to halt the "disproportionate use of force", and asking Palestinian resistance to release a soldier held captive by resistance fighters for the last two weeks.

On Thursday, Qatar representatives circulated a draft resolution demanding that Israel end the offensive in the Gaza Strip and release the Palestinian officials it has arrested.

But the United States representatives in the Security Council have blocked the draft, apparently considering it too critical of Israel.

The bloc of Arab nations in the United Nations approved the resolution, and have been pushing for the Security Council to accept it as well.  Ambassadors from the 57 nations making up the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) met in New York to adopt a statement condemning Israel’s “large-scale military assault” in Gaza and its arrest and detention of Palestinian officials.

The bloc called on the UN Security Council to “act promptly” to pressure Israel to “cease its aggression” against Palestinian civilians and seek emergency aid for Gaza.

Arab and Islamic groups at the UN had approved a draft resolution proposed by delegations of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The two groups presented the draft resolution to the Secretary of UN Human Rights Council to make it an official document to be submitted on Thursday to the Council’s extraordinary meeting to study Israel violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

The draft calls for stopping the Israeli military attack on Gaza Strip as well as halting the Israeli continued violations against Palestinians, and condemning Israeli arrests of the Palestinian officials and ministers.

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, has sent letters to the international parties at the Quartet Committee- UN, US, Russia and the European Union- and to the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Javier Solana condemning the Israeli oppressive practices against the Palestinian people, the OIC said in a statement.

The European Union also issued a statement Friday condemning the Israeli aggression.

Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council, John Dugard, Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Palestine, said recent actions in the Middle East, where an Israeli army post was attacked and one of its soldiers kidnapped, did not "warrant the disproportionate retaliation they have prompted" and called attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Palestinian areas.

Dugard also accused the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, consisting of the UN, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union, of failing to address what he called Israeli’s violations of international human rights law.