“It is Hamas which fires missiles at Israeli citizens, throws explosive devices and carries out terrorist activity during the violent demonstrations along the fence,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel will not allow Hamas to attack Israel’s sovereignty and its people, and will maintain the right of self-defense.”
Israeli leaders have dismissed the U.N. Human Rights Council’s report accusing the Jewish state of “crimes against humanity” in responding to riots along the Gaza border in 2018.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council bears no relation to the protection of human rights,” they said. “The release of this patently false report is a sadly predictable step from a body that has long lost its legitimacy.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the report outright, saying that the U.N. Human Rights Council is “setting new records for hypocrisy and mendacity, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”
“It is Hamas which fires missiles at Israeli citizens, throws explosive devices and carries out terrorist activity during the violent demonstrations along the fence. Israel will not allow Hamas to attack Israel’s sovereignty and its people, and will maintain the right of self-defense,” he said.
The UNHRC, which investigated protests in Gaza from March 30, 2018 until the end of 2018, accused Israeli soldiers of shooting at “journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such.”
According to the report, it found that 189 Palestinians were killed during that time period, with 183 by live ammunition.
It also said that Israeli soldiers killed and injured Palestinians “who were neither directly participating in hostilities, nor posing an imminent threat.”
“Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Santiago Canton, the chair of the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said in a statement.
The Hamas-led protests along the Gaza border were originally organized as part of calls for the “March of Return” of Palestinians to Israel. However, they eventually morphed into weekly confrontations along the Gaza border with Israel that saw a number of attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilian areas, including gunfire, grenade attacks, Molotov cocktails and attempts to breach the border fence and infiltrate southern Israel.
Palestinians in Gaza also launched incendiary kites and balloons over the border fence, causing considerable fire damage to farms and homes in the region.
Nonetheless, the commission dismissed these Israeli claims, saying the protests “were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims.”
“Despite some acts of significant violence, the Commission found that the demonstrations did not constitute combat or military campaigns.”
‘Whitewashing Hamas terrorism’
The Israeli government has repeatedly accused the 47-member UNHRC of bias. Last year, the Trump administration pulled out of the council, citing the bias.
Since its inception in 2006, the UNHRC has passed nearly 80 resolutions condemning Israel, the same number as every other country combined. The UNHRC also has a longstanding agenda, known as item 7, that requires Israel’s human-rights record to be debated at every meeting—something that no other nation faces.
Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs, said the report highlights the lack of legitimacy of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council bears no relation to the protection of human rights. The release of this patently false report is a sadly predictable step from a body that has long lost its legitimacy,” he said. “We will not accept the preaching of morals from a council led by authoritarian regimes that violate human rights on a daily basis.”
The U.N. commission said it had conducted 325 interviews with “victims, witnesses and other sources” while also reviewing more than 8,000 documents, as well as drone footage and other audiovisual material.
“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.
Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s legal adviser and U.N. Liaison, said the U.N. Human Rights Council’s report is not surprising given its reliance on information provided by “Hamas and terror-linked NGOs.”
“The U.N. Human Rights Council, dominated by dictators and rights abusers, has issued yet another absurd report whitewashing Hamas terrorism while condemning Israel for protecting its citizens,” she said. “None of this is surprising given [that]the U.N. relied overwhelmingly on information provided by Hamas and terror-linked NGOs and uncritically adopted their false claims.
“As usual,” she added, “the U.N. Human Rights Council has done nothing to protect human rights, but rather has encouraged ever more violations.”