Israel praises military, reject call for independent probe

Israel praises military, reject call for independent probe

JERUSALEM - Israel rejected calls for an independent probe on Sunday after its soldiers killed 16 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more when a major demonstration led to clashes along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israel s military has faced questions from rights groups over its use of live fire on Friday, the bloodiest day in the conflict since a 2014 war, while Palestinians accuse soldiers of firing on protesters posing no threat.

Both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini have called for an independent investigation.

On Saturday, the United States blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of the violence, diplomats said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised soldiers actions for "guarding the country s borders," while Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the protests were not a "Woodstock festival".

Lieberman said calls for an independent investigation were hypocritical and on Sunday repeated his rejection of such an investigation.

"There will be no commission of inquiry," he told Israel s public radio.

"There will be no such thing here. We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry."

Netanyahu also hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his sharp criticism of what he called Israel s "inhumane attack" in Gaza.

"The most moral army in the world will not be lectured to on morality from someone who for years has been bombing civilians indiscriminately," Netanyahu tweeted.

He has previously labelled Erdogan as someone who "bombs Kurdish villagers". - APP/AFP