Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected calls by the EU and the UN to investigate the Friday killings of Palestinian protesters during the ongoing Land Day protests, declaring instead that “Israeli forces deserve a commendation.”
Lieberman said there is no need for an inquiry into the deaths of at least 16 unarmed Palestinians rallying in the so-called Land Day Protests against Israel’s 1948 occupation and seizure of Palestinian territories.
Israeli forces opened fire on protesters, killing 16 and injuring over 1,400 people, according to multiple eyewitnesses.
UN Secretary General António Guterres and the top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini have called for independent inquiries into the bloodshed.
“From the standpoint of the [Israeli Defence Force] soldiers, they did what had to be done,” Lieberman told Israeli public radio on Sunday, according to the Guardian. “I think that all of our troops deserve a commendation.”
IDF spokespeople declared that claims by the Gaza Health Ministry that over 1400 people were wounded by live fire are exaggerated.
The IDF accused Gaza’s ruling Hamas party of “cynically exploiting women and children” by forcing them to approach the border fence, reported the Jerusalem Post. A Hamas spokesman called the accusations “lies aimed at justifying the massacres.”
Israel accused Hamas of using “violent riots to camouflage terror,” pointing to an attempted gun attack on Friday against IDF soldiers along the border, reported the Guardian.
“People coming towards the fence, attempting to penetrate and break into the fence, damaging the infrastructure or using that area as a staging ground could potentially be shot,” said IDF spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner.
Russia, France, and the Vatican have strongly condemned the use of deadly violence by the Israeli forces. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also condemned the killings, calling on other Muslim nations in the Middle East to unite against Israel in defense of Palestine.