The authors of the investigation interviewed 325 victims, eyewitnesses, and reviewed more than 8,000 documents including social media content, drone footages, and other audio-visual materials.
The United Nations issued a report Thursday providing evidence of Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza. Since Gaza protests started in March 2018, Israeli snipers targeted children, health workers, and journalists, the investigation found.
"Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity," the chair of the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Santiago Canton said Thursday.
The Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called the report “false and biased.”
"No one can deny Israel the right of self-defense and the obligation to defend its citizens and borders from violent attacks," he said.
The U.N. inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council (UNHCR) investigated violations from Mar. 30 when the Great March of Return started, to Dec. 21, 2018. "More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week at the protest sites," the report said.
In a scathing response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel rejected the report "out of hand" and accused the U.N. Human Rights Council of hypocrisy and lies fueled by "an obsessive hatred for Israel."
The Israeli Occupying Forces killed 189 Palestinians, 35 of whom were children, three clearly identifiable paramedics, and two journalists.
"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 report also said Israeli troops killed and injured Palestinians who were not involved in protests directly. "The demonstrations were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims," the statement said denying Israel's claims that the protests were trying to conceal terrorism.
"Despite some acts of significant violence, the Commission found that the demonstrations did not constitute combat or military campaigns".
The committee interviewed 325 victims, eyewitnesses, and reviewed more than 8,000 documents including social media content, drone footages, and other audio-visual materials.
Since the start of Great March of Return, the besieged Gaza strip sees weekly protests on Fridays which has claimed more than 200 Palestinian lives.
Palestinians say the weekly protests are led by civil society groups demanding an easing of the blockade and recognition of their right to return to their homes and villages in Israel, which their ancestors were displaced from by Zionist groups and later by the Israeli government itself upon the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948.