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14 Aug, 2014 02:53

Netanyahu blasts at UN rights body for ‘legitimising terror group’ with Gaza war crimes probe

Netanyahu blasts at UN rights body for ‘legitimising terror group’ with Gaza war crimes probe

Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu has blasted at the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to investigate war crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians during the Gaza conflict, accusing the organization of bias and legitimization of Hamas.

“UNHRC gives legitimacy to murderous terror organisations like Hamas and Daash (Islamic State),” Netanyahu said, lashing out at the UNHRC's unwillingness to investigate other “massacres” in the region.

“First let them carry out an investigation in Damascus, in Baghdad, in Tripoli, let them go and see Daash and the Syrian army and Hamas. It is there, not here, that they will find war crimes,” Netanyahu said, quoted by AFP.

READ MORE: UN names Gaza war-crimes panel

Netanyahu added that instead of investigating Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and their use of human shield tactics the UN chose to probe Israel – “the only democracy in the Middle East… that is acting legitimately to defend its citizens against murderous terror.”

The UN body has issued a statement clarifying that it will investigate “all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” Rolando Gomez told AFP. “This directly implies that both parties will be subjected to a thorough investigation.”

Reuters/Baz Ratner

It is not the first direct criticism the specially appointed UN panel has received from Israel, since Canadian law professor William Schabas, was tasked by the UNHR to head the probe.

On Tuesday Israel denounced Monday's Human Rights Council's decision to form an investigative committee based on the UN Security Council decision dated 23 July.

“The anti-Israel conclusions in the commission's report are pre-written and only lack the signatures,” spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, said, Middle East Monitor reports. “This committee is not interested in human rights, but the rights of terrorist groups such as Hamas,” he added, noting that Israel has yet to decide whether or not it will cooperate with the commission. The Israeli political establishment was also quick to highlight Schabas’ harsh comments made in the past against Israel.

Following his appointment, Schabas gave a number of interviews defending his candidacy.

“I have solid opinions on Israel's actions and its leadership, the same as the rest of the citizens of Israel,” Schabas told Yedioth Ahronoth. “It doesn't mean that this would impair my judgment.”

At the same time he urged Israel to cooperate with the investigation, “because the allegations have a great deal to do with the use of force, the targeting, and the proportionality of that targeting, the identification of military objectives,” Schabas said in an Interview to Israel's Channel 2.

The Rights Council commission is due to publish its findings in March 2015. Israel refused to cooperate with a previous UN inquiry following Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.

According to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry, at least 1,939 Gazans have been killed and 10,000 have been wounded so far in Operation Protective Edge started on July 8. Despite the extension of a shaky truce between Hamas and Israel on Wednesday for another five days, the IDF carried out several airstrikes on Gaza overnight in retaliation to three rockets launched at Israel.

Reuters/Baz Ratner