Gaza's Hamas rulers on Wednesday defended their actions during Israel's assault last winter, saying they did not target civilians while firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns, and rebuffing a UN call for a new inquiry.
Both Israel and Hamas rejected charges by the UN inquiry of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza war, and both appear ready to ignore the demand for internal investigations.
Hamas' report will be submitted to the UN later this week, group official Mohammed al-Ghoul. It argues that the rockets fired from Gaza were meant to hit military targets, but because they are unguided, they hit civilians by mistake.
Palestinian militants fired some 800 rockets and mortar shells into Israel during the war, killing three civilians, wounding about 80 and mildly injuring more than 800.
Hundreds of rockets pelted the border town of Sderot, where there are no military bases. They also hit cities as far away as Beersheba, about 25 miles from Gaza. Most Israelis in rocket range stayed in bomb shelters, avoiding further casualties.
"Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly confirmed that they abiding by international humanitarian law, through broadcasting in different media that they intended to hit military targets and to avoid targeting civilians," the Hamas report stated, citing casualties from "incorrect (or imprecise) fire."
The request for independent investigations was made by the UN General Assembly last November and it gave both sides until February 5 to respond.
Israel also plans to ignore the demand for a full-fledged inquiry, according to Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein. The allegations of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity emerged from a UN commission headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone that investigated the three-week war.
Israel did not rejected the Goldstone Report as biased and unfounded, claiming its actions were in self-defense, trying to stop years of almost daily rocket salvos from Gaza, and that it did everything it could to limit civilian casualties.
By rejecting calls for an independent inquiry, both Hamas and Israel could open themselves up to international war crimes proceedings.