Israel slams 'biased' United Nations probe alleging IDF crimes during Gaza border unrest

Kurdish fighters gesture while carrying their parties' flags in Tel Abyad of Raqqa governorate after they said they took control of the area

The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry accused Israel Thursday of intentionally firing on children, journalists, medical personnel and other unarmed civilians during protests in Gaza previous year.

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

Alluding to Israeli soldiers, she said, "we are saying that they have intentionally shot children, they have intentionally shot people with disabilities, they have intentionally shot journalists".

The goverment called the report "hostile, false and biased", while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the report reflected the council's "obsessive hatred" of 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-defence and the obligation to defend its citizens and borders from violent attacks", he said.

These arson and bombing attacks largely stopped at the end of previous year, following a de facto ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, but they returned earlier this month as this understanding began to fray.

Israel imposed the blockade after the militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

The Israeli government said terrorists wanted to use the protests as cover to cross into its territory and carry out attacks. The IDF has said its troops adhere strictly to global live fire regulations and have only opened fire in cases where protesters posed a direct threat to troops or to prevent a mass border breach.

It added that it had found "reasonable grounds to believe that ... the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful".

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Thirty-five children, two journalists and three "clearly-marked" paramedics were among those killed by Israeli forces, in violation of global humanitarian law, it said.

Israeli forces also injured 6,106 Palestinians with live ammunition during the same period, according to the commission's data analysis. "It is Hamas which fires rockets at Israeli civilians, bombs and carries out terrorist activities during the violent demonstrations on the fence".

The IDF has also said a large number of protesters killed or injured are armed with weapons with the intention of harming Israeli soldiers and civilians. It added that 35 deaths included children, three medics and two journalists.

The UNHRC accuses Israel of intentionally shooting civilians during the protests, which began on March 30, 2018.

The commission of inquiry also stated that Israeli security forces "killed and maimed demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others...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".

That meant Israeli forces were required to operate according to the global legal framework applicable to police and other law enforcement officials, which is part of worldwide human rights law.

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

"The onus is now on Israel to investigate every protest-related killing and injury, promptly, impartially and independently in accordance with worldwide standards, to determine whether war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed, with a view to holding accountable those found responsible", said Santiago Canton, the Argentine chairman of the commission.

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