Israeli defence minister rejects Gaza inquiry, defends soldiers

Tel Aviv - Two days after at least 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during protests in the Gaza Strip, Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected calls for an independent investigation into the deaths.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, international human rights organizations and the leader of a left-wing Israeli party have called for an inquiry into the deaths.

Israel says it was responding to Palestinian rioting along the Israel-Gaza border, as tens of thousands of Palestinians marched in the name of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled from their homes in present-day Israel.
"Regarding an investigation committee, it will not happen," Lieberman said to Israel's army radio.
Lieberman defended the soldiers' actions, saying they acted "exactly according to procedures."
"Anyone that was not posing a danger that was not approaching the [border] fence, they did not shoot," he added.
Multiple videos, which the Israeli army rejected as "Hamas's propoganda," appear to show Palestinians being shot while not posing an immediate threat.
Israel has since said that 10 of those killed were active members of Hamas' armed wing and two other militant groups, while Hamas has acknowledged that five of the dead were members of its armed wing.
Friday's "Great March of Return" kicked off a six-week-long border protest.
The protest will culminate on May 15, the day after the anniversary of Israel's independence, which is marked by Palestinians as Nakba Day, Arabic for "catastrophe."
It will also coincide with the US embassy's planned move on May 14 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which has inflamed tensions.


Sunday, April 1st 2018
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