A United Nations probe has blamed Israel for committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip over the killing of nearly 200 people and wounding more than 6,000 unarmed protesters last year.
The report was published on Thursday by the Independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the Israeli violations committed during the ‘March of Return’ protests in the Gaza Strip between March 30 and December 31 of 2018.
The investigation stated that Israeli forces “killed and maimed Palestinian demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities.”
“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.
Peaceful protests have been organised on a weekly basis along the Gaza border with Israel since 30 March 2018, calling for an end to Israel’s 12-year siege on the besieged strip.
More than 250 Palestinians have been killed so far and another 26,000 injured by Israeli forces since the beginning of the events. Most of the victims died on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Land Day.
The head of the UN committee, Santiago Canton, said: “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
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“Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
Commenting on the commission’s findings, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the UNHRC “is setting new records for hypocrisy and mendacity, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel.”
Netanyahu also claimed that “Israel will not allow Hamas to attack Israel’s sovereignty and its people, and will maintain the right of self-defence.”
Since its creation in 2006, the UNHRC has condemned Israel in 78 resolutions.