Backed investigators fault Israel over 2018 crackdown on Gaza protests

Backed investigators fault Israel over 2018 crackdown on Gaza protests

The front window of an Israeli home was shattered by explosives attached to balloons that were launched from Gaza.

Israel's use of live fire against demonstrators is said to be based on concerns that militants were hiding among protesters in attempts to breach the border fence in order to harm Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The commission said it took note of the Israel's assertion that the protests masked "terror activities" by Palestinian armed groups, and also that some demonstrators were members of armed groups.

Israel's Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz also rejected and condemned the report in a statement that read in part, "The Human Rights Council's Theatre of the Absurd has once again produced a report that is hostile, mendacious and biased against Israel".

He called on "the global community to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the war crimes that it continues to commit against the Palestinians". Hamas, he said was "the one to bear the responsibility".

"The International Criminal Court should act immediately and open a probe into the crimes conducted (by Israel)", he said in a statement. "Israel will continue to defend its citizens from these attacks, despite the Council's sentiment that Israel has no right to defend its borders", Nahshon said, adding that the HRC has become "an accomplice of a terrorist organization".

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said it was "hard to imagine the United Nations could sink any lower".

The inquiry, set up by the UN Human Rights Council, investigated possible violations from the start of the protests on March 30, 2018 through to December 31.

Estimating that as many as 23,000 Palestinians were injured by the Israeli military, including hundreds who lost limbs, the commission also said it believed that Israeli snipers intentionally shot at journalists and health workers even though they were clearly marked.

"There can be no justification for killing and injuring journalists, medics and persons who pose no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them", Hossain 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 UN team also dismissed claims by Israel that the protests were aimed to hide acts of terrorism.

"The demonstrations were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims", it said.

"Despite some acts of significant violence, the Commission found that the demonstrations did not constitute combat or military campaigns", it said.

Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. Investigators looked at drone footage and other audiovisual material, the commission said. 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.

Mustafa Abu Assi, a 29-year-old engineer living in Gaza, welcomed the report on Thursday, saying he "totally agreed" with the UN's assessment. There were no reports of casualties from the Israeli strikes.

"While some protesters engaged in violence, including by burning tires, unleashing incendiary kites and balloons towards media videos, as well as eyewitness testimonies gathered by Amnesty International, Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups, show that Israeli soldiers shot and killed, journalists, medical staff, bystanders and unarmed protesters who posed no threat to life", the report claimed.

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