An Israeli government report released Thursday insisted that "incessant" Hamas rocket attacks forced Israel to hit Gaza hard earlier this year, countering charges of war crimes but acknowledging that more than a dozen criminal inquiries are underway.
The 160-page report was called the first comprehensive Israeli government study of the punishing offensive in December and January that killed more than 1,100 Palestinians.
It was an attempt to answer charges from Palestinians, the U.N. and human rights groups that Israeli forces committed war crimes and violated international law during the three-week operation. Charges have included indiscriminate and intentional firing that killed civilians and destroyed property, The Associated Press reports.
The Israeli government also has said that its war on the Gaza Strip was "necessary and proportionate".
"Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas's almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks," the report published by the foreign ministry said, Aljazeera.net reports.
The report also "gives previously unpublished details of the multiple IDF investigations into allegations made by various groups that violations of the law were committed." It sets forth the preliminary findings of some of the IDF field investigations, including those related to firing on U.N. facilities and medical facilities, the use of white phosphorous, and destruction of private property by IDF ground forces.
The report comes just days before the scheduled release of two United Nations reports on the Gaza war that are expected to be harshly critical of Israel. Some of the findings in the IDF report are only provisional, since the IDF is still conducting field and criminal investigations into some of the allegations, Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.