Hamas internal document defends Cast Lead actions

Terror group says it did not target civilians while firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns, rebuffs UN call for new inquiry.

sderot kassam 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
sderot kassam 224.88
(photo credit: AP)

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

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

Both and Hamas rejected charges by the UN inquiry ofwar crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and both appear ready to ignorethe demand for internal investigations.

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

Palestinian terrorists fired some 800 rockets and mortarshells into during the war, killing three civilians, wounding about 80 and slightlyinjuring more than 800.

Hundreds of rockets pelted the border town of , where there areno military bases. They also hit cities as far away as ,about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from .Most Israelis in rocket range stayed in bomb shelters, avoiding furthercasualties.

"Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly confirmedthat they abiding by international humanitarian law, through broadcasting indifferent media that they intended to hit military targets and to avoidtargeting civilians," the Hamas reportstated, citing casualties from "incorrect (or imprecise) fire."

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

also plans to ignore the demandfor a full-fledged inquiry, according to Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein. Theallegations of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity emerged from a UNcommission headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone that investigatedthe three-week war.

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

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