Israel slams hostile and biased United Nations report on Gaza deaths

Israel slams hostile and biased United Nations report on Gaza deaths

Israel slams hostile and biased United Nations report on Gaza deaths

Israel says it "utterly rejects" a new United Nations Human Rights Council report Thursday condemning the Jewish State for its response to violent protests on the Gaza border a year ago during the "Great March of Return".

"The Israeli authorities did not respond to repeated requests by the Commission for information and access to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territory", the report said.

Criticizing the Israeli military's rules of engagement, which has included using snipers to prevent protesters from reaching the fence, the commission said that "less lethal alternatives remained available and substantial defenses were in place, rendering the use of lethal force neither necessary nor proportionate, and therefore impermissible".

The panel acknowledged "acts of significant violence" from the demonstrators, who have thrown rocks, molotov cocktails and in several cases explosives at the fence and Israeli troops behind it.

The UN report reflects an investigation of responses to demonstrations held on the Gaza Strip's border with Israel between March 30 and December 31 of 2018.

It found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at children, medics and journalists, even though they were clearly recognisable as such.

The UN inquiry found fault with the protest organisers, which includes Gaza's rulers, Hamas, for allowing the use of kites and balloons carrying cans of flaming petrol that have floated into Israel and torched fields.

Protests at the frontier between Israel and the Gaza Strip began in March a year ago, with Gazans calling on Israel to ease a blockade of the territory and for recognition of the right to return to lands their ancestors fled or were forced to flee when Israel was founded in 1948. They later turned into a weekly demonstration aimed at easing a blockade imposed on Gaza.

Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, have fought three wars since 2008.

Israel's newly-appointed Foreign Minister Israel Katz labeled the commission a "theater of the absurd", and said the report was "hostile, mendacious and biased against Israel".

Katz said that those 'pushing the residents of Gaza to the fences, including women and children, is Hamas, an organisation whose declared goal is destroying the state of Israel, and is the one to bear the responsibility'. No one can deny Israel the right of self-defense and the obligation to defend its citizens and borders from violent attacks.

The UN team dismissed claims by Israel that the protests aimed to hide acts of terrorism that have included shootings, grenade and bomb attacks, Molotov cocktails and breaches of the border fence.

The commission conducted more than 300 interviews and reviewed more than 8,000 documents related to the demonstrations before issuing the report.

The commission said it heard from 15 contributors from the Israeli side, including non-governmental organizations, but got no co-operation from the Israel government.

"Israeli soldiers committed violations of worldwide human rights and humanitarian law", committee chair Santiago Canton said in a statement. Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognise its jurisdiction but the Hague-based court opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of Israeli human rights abuses on Palestinian territory in 2015.

"These serious human rights and humanitarian law violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity", it added.

"The only way that we will find the solution to all the killings taking place is if the worldwide community takes the responsibility of taking this issue more seriously, and finding a peaceful solution to this conflict", he said.

Israel says its forces have at times come under gun or grenade attacks during the protests.

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