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Israel Launches Diplomatic Offensive Against UN Report


Israel is rejecting a call in a UN report to open an independent inquiry into the country's conduct its offensive almost a year ago in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government said it is launching a diplomatic offensive against the report in order to block any attempt to try the case before an international court. The report was issued by a panel appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Almost one year later, Israel's incursion into Gaza, targeting Hamas militants there, is still a contentious issue.

In a report, the UN-appointed panel accuses Israel and the militant group Hamas of war crimes and possibly, "crimes against humanity" during the December to January conflict.
Israel's foreign ministry expressed outrage. It rejected the report's demand for an independent Israeli investigation into the war.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says, "The Israel government made the right decision in not cooperating with this almost kangaroo court. They had decided, in advance who was the guilty party, and we saw that in the way they acted."

An official of Hamas, which rules Gaza, said the report validates its condemnation of Israel's incursion into the Gaza Strip.

"The report affirmed, in some of its elements, the credibility of Hamas, in truths it reported on, regarding crimes committed by the Zionist enemy, true war crimes and their killings in the dozens of Palestinian families," Mushir Al-Masri said.

The report says Israel failed to take precautions required by international law to avoid or minimize civilian deaths.

It also says Hamas militants fired rockets into Israel with the intent of harming civilians. But the bulk of the findings focus on Israel.

More than 1300 Palestinians died during the three-week incursion. Israel says most of them were militants, but the Palestinians dispute that.

Thirteen Israelis died.

The report says Hamas and Israel should both conduct independent investigations.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone headed the panel. He says, "While we are critical of both Israel and the Gaza authorities for having done far too little in that regard, we came to the conclusion that these are cases where there may unwillingness, but there is ability."

The report says the U.N. Security Council should refer the evidence to the International Criminal Court in the Hague if either side fails to comply.

The US government has said it has concerns about some of the recommendations. A spokesman would not elaborate.

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