Israeli President Calls UN Gaza Report 'Outrageous'
By Margaret Besheer
06 May 2009
Israel's President on Wednesday rejected as "outrageous" a U.N. inquiry that blamed Israel for six serious attacks on U.N. premises during its recent Gaza offensive.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said his government does not accept "one word" of the report, calling it "one-sided" and "unfair."
"We think it is outrageous. We shall never accept it," Mr. Peres said. "We do not think we have to apologize because we have the right to defend the lives of our children and women. They can stop the missiles? All the people who criticize us, can they stop the shooting? Can they stop the killing? The fact is, the minute we strike, they stop shooting."
Mr. Peres spoke to reporters following a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He said Israel cooperated fully with the investigation. And that though he rejected the report's findings, he admitted to some mistakes.
"And I admit we made some mistakes. I do not know any war without mistakes. And to let people understand what I mean [by] a 'mistake,' we would not like to kill a single civilian, but war is terrible," Mr. Peres said.
The independent board of inquiry found that in six of the nine incidents it investigated, Israeli military actions, munitions or soldiers were responsible for deaths, injuries and damage that occurred on U.N. property.
Those incidents included attacks on three U.N.-run schools that were sheltering Palestinians fleeing the conflict as well as a U.N. health center and its Gaza headquarters.
The report also blamed Palestinian militants, most likely associated with Hamas, for damage to a U.N. warehouse that sustained rocket fire.
Mr. Peres accused the five-member board of inquiry appointed by Mr. Ban of going beyond its mandate of investigating incidents on U.N. property, a charge the secretary-general's office denied.
More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died during Israel's three-week long offensive intended to stop Hamas militants from firing rockets into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.