Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected the U.N. report alleging Israeli war crimes in its Gaza war this year, warning world leaders that they and their anti-terror forces could be targets for similar charges.
Netanyahu said Israeli forces were exercising their right to self-defense after rocket attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants against southern Israeli towns before and since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
“They tell us to pull out, and after we do, and we exercise our right to self defense, they call us war criminals? I don’t accept that,” Netanyahu told Israel TV, speaking on the occasion of the Jewish New Year holiday, which begins today.
The report of the U.N. commission, headed by South African justice Richard Goldstone, faulted Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza, saying it used disproportionate force in the offensive. About 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the three-week conflict. Israel charged that Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers were to blame, saying they placed rocket launchers and forces in crowded neighborhoods.
The U.N. report also called Hamas’ firing of rockets at Israeli civilians a war crime.