Israel calls UN probe on Gaza fighting outrageous

May 7th, 2009 - 2:32 am ICT by IANS  

New York, May 7 (DPA) Israeli President Shimon Peres lashed out Wednesday at a United Nations-commissioned investigation that found the Israeli Defence Forces were responsible for deaths and damage to UN compounds in Gaza Strip.
“It’s outrageous,” Peres said in reaction to the findings of the three-member investigative board established by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to seek the truth in the military incidents in the fighting between Israel and Hamas in December and January.

The report, which was released Tuesday, said Israel Defence Forces were responsible for six of nine attacks against UN-run compounds in Gaza while it fought Hamas militias.

“We will never accept it,” Peres said about the 184-page report that the board had given to Ban and the UN Security Council.

“The secretary general is not responsible for the report,” Peres said following a meeting with Ban in his 38th floor office. “We have high regards for the secretary general, but we cannot accept one word in the report. The report is unfair and one-sided.”

Ban said Tuesday that he wanted the board to clarify all the facts regarding the incidents. But he said the board had no court of law obligations and the report was an internal UN document. He nonetheless supported the findings.

Peres said the Israeli government had cooperated with the investigative board, but accused its members of stepping out of their mandate by investigating incidents not related to UN compounds. He said Israel has set up a group to discuss a UN demand for compensation for damage to UN buildings, estimated at about $11 million.

In once case, the IDF fired 122 mm mortar rounds into the immediate vicinity of the Jabalia school on Jan 6, killing 30 to 40 Palestinians, the investigators said. The site was the refuge of hundreds of Palestinians who had fled the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“The board found that the undisputed cause of the injuries and the deaths to persons in the immediate vicinity of the school was the firing of 122mm mortar rounds by the IDF, which landed in the area outside the school and at the compound of a family home nearby,” the report said.

The investigators called on Israel to acknowledge it had filed “untrue” statements about attacks against the Jabalia school and a UN compound, and to express regret.

Peres said Israel would not retract its statements because the accusations against Israel were also “untrue.”

During his encounter with reporters at UN headquarters, Peres insisted that Israeli troops had no intention of shooting at Palestinian civilians and acknowledged that mistakes were made during the conflict with Hamas.

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