UN Report: Israel Possibly Committed War Crimes During 2018 Gaza Protests
Palestinian protesters in Gaza during the 2018 protests dubbed 'The Great March of Return' (Representational Image/ Photo Credits: ANI)

Toronto, March 1: The UN Human Rights Council which had set up an independent inquiry in to possible human rights violations by Israel while responding to the Gaza protesters, has found “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity."

Palestinians in Gaza began protests from March 30, 2018, through to December 31 demanding that their ancestral land be returned to them by Israel. The Palestinians had called their protest “The Great March of Return.”

The report found that "More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week at the protest sites," it said. "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."

The UN team looking into Israel’s actions dismissed claims by Israeli forces that the protests were aimed to conceal acts of terrorism. "The demonstrations were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims," the statement said. "Despite some acts of significant violence, the Commission found that the demonstrations did not constitute combat or military campaigns."

In its report, which was published on Thursday the UN team said it spoke to over 300 victims, witnesses and sources, gathered more than 8,000 documents, and analysed social media and drone footage. The report also said the UN team had reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli troops killed and injured Palestinians "who were neither directly participating in hostilities, nor posing an imminent threat".

The UN team said the Israel government refused to co-operate with them, "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.

After the report was made public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the UN team for "setting new records for hypocrisy and mendacity, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel".