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Hamas calls for Israel to be held accountable after UN Gaza probe


AFP Gaza City(Palestinian Territories)
Hamas called for Israel to be held accountable on Thursday after a UN probe said its soldiers may have committed crimes against humanity in their response to Gaza unrest.
"The report indicates beyond any doubt that the Israeli occupation has committed clear war crimes against the Palestinians who came out to protest peacefully to demand the right of return and lift the siege," Bassem Naim, a senior official for the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, told AFP.
He called on "the international community to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the war crimes that it continues to commit against the Palestinians." Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, based in the occupied West Bank, also welcomed the probe's findings.
Rights groups including Amnesty International also called for further action to hold Israel accountable after the report.
Israeli rights group B'Tselem renewed a call for soldiers to refuse to comply with the army's open-fire rules along the Gaza border.
Israel flatly rejected the report, calling it "hostile, deceitful and biased" while saying its actions have been necessary to defend the border.
Protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30 last year.
Demonstrators have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel, which Israeli officials say is akin to calling for their country's destruction.
They accuse Hamas of using the protests as cover for infiltrations and attacks, while rights groups and Palestinians say protesters posing little threat have been shot by Israeli snipers.
At least 251 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

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First Published: Feb 28 2019 | 9:11 PM IST

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