Israel won’t cooperate in Gaza inquiry, defense minister says

A Palestinian flag is seen near the border next Israeli troops during clashes with Israeli troops along the border between Israel and Gaza Strip in the eastern Gaza Strip on Saturday. On Friday, 15 Palestinians were killed during the clashes along the border with Israel. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA

April 1 (UPI) — Israel won’t cooperate with any international inquiry into the deaths of 16 Palestinians near the border with the Gaza Strip, the nation’s defense minister said Sunday.

On Saturday, U.N. Spokesman Farhan Haq said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was calling for an “independent and transparent” into the clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded in a statement: “The procession of hypocrites calling for a committee of inquiry must understand that there will be no such thing. There will not be any international inquiry. We will not cooperate with any inquiry of this kind.”

Lierberman denied Israel Defense Forces fired on peaceful protesting Palestinians, but only targeted those who charged the border fence to breach it or to plant explosives there.

“Israeli soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal,” Lieberman told Army Radio on Sunday.

On Saturday night, Liberman posted on Twitter: “I do not understand the choir of hypocrites who are calling for a commission of inquiry. They got confused and thought Hamas organized a Woodstock festival and we had to meet them with flowers.”

On Sunday, Turkish President Erdogan lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Hey Netanyahu! You are occupier. And it is as an occupier that are you are on those lands. At the same time, you are a terrorist,” Erdogan said in a televised address.

Netanyahu responded on Twitter: “The most moral army in the world will not be lectured by those who have indiscriminately bombed civilian populations for years. Apparently this is how #AprilFoolsDay is celebrated in Ankara.”

The IDF, in a post on Twitter, said “at least 10 known terrorists with track records of terrorist activity were killed whilst carrying out acts of terror during the violent riots along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.”

The IDF said it estimated some 30,000 demonstrators took part in the protests throughout Friday

Israeli forces opened fire on rallies marking the “Land Day,” which is an annual Palestinian commemoration of the deaths of six Arab Israeli citizens killed by Israeli forces in 1976. The rallies were the beginning of a six-week protest that culminates May 15 — the day Palestinians call Nakba, or Catastrophe, when Israel was founded. Demonstrators want Palestinian refugees to be allowed the right of return to towns and villages their families left when Israel was created in 1948.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday on Palestine TV that Israel was “fully responsible” for the deaths and more than 1,000 wounded.

“The large number of martyrs and injured in peaceful demonstrations affirms the need for the international community to intervene to provide protection for our people,” Abbas said.

Israel will not return the bodies of terrorists killed by the Israel Defense Forces, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai posted on the IDF’s Arabic Facebook page on Sunday.

He blamed Hamas for causing problems in Gaza.

“The Hamas terror organization that controls Gaza does not care about either the living or the dead,” Mordechai said. “It is preventing the Muslim burial of the bodies. Israel will not rest and Gaza will know no peace until Israelis return from the strip and our soldiers are brought to burial in Israel.”

The IDF posted on Twitter: ” ‘Peaceful protesters’ wouldn’t arm their children with weapons, real or toy.”


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