Israel rejects ‘biased’ U.N. probe into its response to Gaza unrest

Agence France-Presse
'No institution can negate Israel's right to self-defense and its duty to defend its residents and borders from violent attacks,' says Foreign Minister Israel Katz

'BIASED.' Israeli Minister Yisrael Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. File photo by Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP

JERUSALEM – Israel rejected the findings of a UN probe released Thursday, February 28, into its soldiers’ response to Gaza unrest that began in March last year, calling it “hostile, deceitful and biased.”

“Israel rejects the report outright,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement after the probe alleged soldiers may have committed crimes against humanity.

“No institution can negate Israel’s right to self-defense and its duty to defend its residents and borders from violent attacks,” he added, labelling it “the theatre of the absurd.”

Katz said that those “pushing the residents of Gaza to the fences, including women and children, is Hamas, an organization whose declared goal is destroying the state of Israel, and is the one to bear the responsibility.”

The probe was carried out by a UN commission of inquiry set up by the world body’s Human Rights Council.

It investigated possible violations from the start of the protests on March 30, 2018 through to December 31.

“The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such,” it said.

Protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30 last year.

Demonstrators have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel, which Israeli officials say is akin to calling for their country’s destruction.

They accuse Hamas of using the protests as cover for infiltrations and attacks, while rights groups and Palestinians say protesters posing little threat have been shot by Israeli snipers.

At least 251 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, have fought 3 wars since 2008. – Rappler.com