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UN: Israel, Palestinians Likely Committed Crimes in 2014 Gaza War


FILE - Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike in the Gaza strip as seen from the Israel Gaza border, July 16, 2014.

A United Nations report says Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during last year's Gaza war.
The widely anticipated report decried "unprecedented" devastation and human suffering.

The Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict says it gathered "substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both sides."

Both sides quickly rejected the report's findings that Palestinian militants targeted civilians in rocket attacks, while Israeli forces likely used "disproportionate'' force in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip, both identified by the U.N. commission as potential war crimes.

The conflict last year killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, while 73 people died on the Israeli side.

In response to the report Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel defends itself against a terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and carries out many war crimes." He said Israel will continue to act forcefully and determinedly against those who seek to harm our citizens and we will do this according to international law."

Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press the U.N. report created a false balance "between the victims and the killers.'' He said Hamas rockets and mortars were aimed at Israeli military sites, not at civilians.

The U.N. commission presented its findings in Geneva. It said the war saw a huge increase in firepower, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars toward Israel during the 50-day war, it said.

The report noted that while Israel had taken steps to investigate its own alleged violations, it concluded that "investigations by Palestinian authorities are woefully inadequate.''

Last week, Israel released its own report, saying Israeli forces did not intentionally target civilians and accusing Gaza's Hamas rulers of deliberately attacking Israeli civilians while using their own people as human shields.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the Israeli report "worthless."

Israel's 50 days of shelling, air strikes and ground incursions were launched last July after a surge of indiscriminate cross-border rocket fire by Hamas and its allies that followed the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack.