U.N. report: Israel purposely attacked Gaza facilities

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A United Nations report says that Israel attacked U.N. facilities on purpose during its Gaza military operation and fails to mention relentless attacks by Hamas.

The report, commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was provided to Israel in advance of its expected presentation Tuesday to the Security Council.

The internal inspection committee examined the events in which nine U.N. installations were damaged during last winter’s Operation Cast Lead, which was spurred by constant Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel and after Hamas called off a cease-fire. Several dozen people were killed in Israel’s attacks on the U.N. facilities, which included a school.

A statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that "The State of Israel rejects the criticism in the committee’s summary report, and determines that in both spirit and language, the report is tendentious, patently biased, and ignores the facts presented to the committee. The committee has preferred the claims of Hamas, a murderous terror organization, and by doing so has misled the world."

"The Israeli team presented various intelligence materials, including videos, aerial photographs, eye-witness reports and other material. None of this information is reflected in the report," the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry points out that Israel carried out its own independent investigation into the damage to U.N. facilities and the results, released two weeks ago, proved that the Israel Defense Forces did not strike the buildings intentionally.

"Not only have the Hamas terrorists not conducted such inquiries, they have used violence and intimidation against citizens of Gaza as tools to prevent them from presenting the actual truth," the statement said. "In this manner they have deceived the investigators, the U.N. and public opinion."

Ban sent a letter detailing his response to the report. In it, the Foreign Ministry says, he emphasizes the close cooperation accorded to the inspection team by the Israeli authorities, and adds that his representatives are discussing the implementation of the report’s recommendations with the Israeli authorities.

Also in his letter, Ban criticizes the firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli towns, and praises the coordination between the IDF and the U.N. Israel’s operation in Gaza. The secretary-general further stresses in his letter that the U.N. inspection committee is not a judicial body and is not authorized to examine legal issues.
 

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