Israel rejects ‘biased’ UN probe into its response to Gaza unrest

“No institution can negate Israel’s right to self-defence and its duty to defend its residents and borders from violent attacks.”
Thursday 28/02/2019
Palestinian protesters crouch down and others burn tyres during a demonstration near the border between Israel and Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 21, 2018. (AFP)
Palestinian protesters crouch down and others burn tyres during a demonstration near the border between Israel and Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 21, 2018. (AFP)

Israel rejected the findings of a UN probe released Thursday 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-defence 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 organisation 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 recognisable 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 three wars since 2008.

(AFP)