Hamas defends Cast Lead actions

Terror group says rockets fired were meant to hit military targets.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 28, 2010 01:45
2 minute read.
Hamas defends Cast Lead actions

sderot kassam 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Hamas on Wednesday defended its actions during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead last winter, saying it did not target civilians while firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns, and rebuffing a UN call for a new inquiry.

A report handed by a Hamas official to The Associated Press days before a UN deadline indicated Hamas will not convene an independent investigation of its rocket fire.

Both Israel and Hamas rejected charges by the UN inquiry of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and both appear ready to ignore the demand for internal investigations.

The Hamas report will be submitted to the UN later this week, said the official, Mohammed al-Ghoul. Its argument is that rockets fired from were meant to hit military targets, but because they are unguided, they hit civilians by mistake.

Palestinian terrorists fired some 800 rockets and mortar shells into during the war, killing three civilians, wounding about 80 and slightly injuring more than 800.

Hundreds of rockets pelted the border town of , where there are no military bases. They also hit cities as far away as Beersheba, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from . Most Israelis in rocket range stayed in bomb shelters, avoiding further casualties.

"Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly confirmed that they abiding by international humanitarian law, through broadcasting in different media that they intended to hit military targets and to avoid targeting civilians," the Hamas report stated, citing casualties from "incorrect (or imprecise) fire."

The request for independent investigations was made by the UN General Assembly last November and it gave both sides until Feb. 5 to respond.

Israel also plans to ignore the demand for a full-fledged inquiry, according to Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein. The allegations of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity emerged from a UN commission headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone that investigated the three-week war.

Israel did not cooperate with the commission and rejected its findings as biased and unfounded, claiming its actions were in self-defense, trying to stop years of almost daily rocket salvos from Gaza, and that it did everything it could to limit civilian casualties.

By rejecting calls for an independent inquiry, both Hamas and could open themselves up to international war crimes proceedings.

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