United Nations says Israel should face justice for Gaza protest killings

United Nations says Israel should face justice for Gaza protest killings

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'. It acknowledged significant violence linked to the demonstrations, but said they did not amount to combat campaigns, essentially rejecting an Israeli claim of terror activity by Palestinian armed groups.

War on Want, an NGO based in London, welcomed the United Nations report and urged the British government to stop selling arms to Israel.

"Israeli soldiers committed violations of global human rights and humanitarian law".

While the demonstrations continue, the inquiry investigated possible violations only from the start of the protests on 30 March to the end of 2018.

"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.

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 added: "No one can deny Israel the right of self-defence and the obligation to defend its citizens and borders from violent attacks".

He called on "the worldwide community to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the war crimes that it continues to commit against the Palestinians".

The UN inquiry, which released its findings on Thursday, concluded that Palestinian demonstrators "did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities". "Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel", said the Chair of the Commission, Santiago Canton of Argentina.

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.

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 army's rules governing use of live fire are not officially classified but widely known in a country where most Israelis perform compulsory military service.

"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. The panel showed video of grisly shootings of protesters as it issued a report on the violence that began in March.

But the commission, which conducted some 325 interviews with victims, witnesses and government officials from both sides about events in Gaza through to December 31, said only 29 of the dead could be clearly identified as members of Palestinian armed factions. "They intentionally shot journalists", said legal expert Sara Hossain of Bangladesh, who was one of the three investigators on the commission.

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.

"Some of these unlawful killings appeared to be willful, which would constitute war crimes", Amnesty continued.

Tear gas canisters are fired by Israeli troops toward Palestinians during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Friday. IDF procedures on the border accord with global law and the standards of other militaries worldwide.

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