GENEVA – The Latest on a U.N. investigation into Israel's crackdown on Gaza demonstrations (all times local):
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed a U.N. report that criticizes the Israeli military's tactics against Palestinian demonstrators along the Gaza border.
Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday that the U.N. Human Rights Council "is setting new records for hypocrisy and mendacity, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel."
Netanyahu has stressed Israel's right to self-defense and blamed the Gaza border violence on the enclave's rulers, Hamas, a group he accused of firing missiles at Israeli citizens and throwing explosive devices at soldiers.
He says, "Israel will not allow Hamas to attack Israel's sovereignty and its people, and will maintain the right of self-defense."
U.N.-backed investigators say Israeli soldiers intentionally fired on civilians and could have committed crimes against humanity during crackdowns against Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza last year that left 189 people dead.
The independent Commission of Inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council said more than 6,000 people were shot by military snipers using live ammunition to repel protesters near the separation fence.
The panel said Thursday that civilians who did not pose an "imminent threat" were among those killed and injured. It acknowledged significant violence linked to the demonstrations, but said they did not amount to combat campaigns, essentially rejecting an Israeli claim of "terror activities" by Palestinian armed groups.
It also faulted Hamas, which runs Gaza, for not preventing use of incendiary kites during the protests.