Former UN rights boss to head probe into Israel, Hamas alleged crimes

GENEVA (Reuters) – Former United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay will head an international commission of inquiry into alleged crimes committed during the latest conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council said in a statement on Thursday.

The council agreed in late May to launch the investigation with a broad mandate to probe all alleged violations, not just in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but also in Israel during hostilities that were halted by a May 21 ceasefire.

At least 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel were killed in the fierce fighting, which saw Gaza militants fire rockets towards Israeli cities and Israel carry out air strikes across the coastal enclave.

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the council at the time that deadly Israeli strikes on Gaza might constitute war crimes and that Hamas had violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets into Israel.

Israel rejected the resolution adopted by the Geneva forum at an emergency special session and said it would not cooperate.

Pillay, a former South African judge who served as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014, will lead the three-person panel also composed of Indian expert Miloon Kothari and Australian expert Chris Sidoti, said the statement issued by the Human Rights Council. The investigators, who have been tasked with trying to identify those responsible for violations with a view to ensure they are held accountable, are due to present their first report in June 2022.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Israel to ease more Gaza restrictions as truce holds

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel said on Thursday it would ease restrictions on trade and fisheries in the Gaza Strip that had been tightened during 11 days of fighting with the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers last month.

Israel keeps tight controls over Gaza’s borders, with support from neighboring Egypt, citing threats from Hamas. The Israeli restrictions were intensified during the May fighting – halting Gaza exports, restricting imports of raw materials and limiting the area that Palestinians are permitted to fish.

With an Egyptian-mediated truce largely holding, Israel on Monday allowed a limited resumption of commercial exports from Gaza. But Hamas demanded a wider easing of curbs and held out the possibility of resuming hostilities.

Starting from Friday, Israel will “expand the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip from six to nine nautical miles, and (approve) the import of raw materials for essential civilian factories,” COGAT, a branch of Israel’s defense ministry, said.

The new measures are “conditional upon the preservation of security stability,” COGAT said in a statement.

At least one factory in the Strip, Pepsi Gaza, had shut down due to Israeli restrictions on raw materials imports, including carbon dioxide gas. COGAT did not say which raw materials would be allowed in.

Egypt and the United Nations stepped up mediation last week after incendiary balloons launched from Gaza drew retaliatory Israeli air strikes on Hamas sites, challenging the fragile ceasefire.

At least 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel were killed in the May fighting, which saw Gaza militants fire rockets towards Israeli cities and Israel carry out air strikes across the coastal enclave.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Israel to send Palestinians 1 million COVID vaccine doses in exchange deal

By Rami Ayyub

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel will send at least 1 million soon-to-expire COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under a deal to share shots, officials said on Friday.

Under the terms of the deal, announced by new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office, the PA agreed to give Israel a reciprocal number of doses from one of its own shipments due to arrive later this year.

Rights groups have criticized Israel, which led the world with its swift vaccine roll-out, for not doing more to ensure Palestinian access to doses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, territory it captured in a 1967 war.

Criticizing the dose-sharing deal, Physicians for Human Rights Israel said on Twitter: “It is highly doubtful that the PA will be able to use all the vaccines, as they are about to expire.”

The vaccine deal was among initial policy moves towards the Palestinians by Bennett, who was sworn in on Sunday and replaced veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Israel will transfer to the Palestinian Authority 1-1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine,” a joint statement from Bennett’s office and the health and defense ministries said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech doses earmarked for transfer “will expire soon”, the statement said, and they were “approved in light of the fact that Israel’s vaccine stock meets its needs today”. The statement did not give their exact expiration date.

An initial 100,000 doses were transferred on Friday, Israeli officials said.

A source in the PA health ministry confirmed the deal and said the Palestinians expect to receive a shipment of Pfizer doses in August or September. The Israeli statement said Israel would receive reciprocal doses from the PA in September or October.

Around 55% of eligible Israelis are fully vaccinated – a coverage rate largely unchanged by this month’s expansion of eligibility to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

Some 30% of eligible Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, home to a combined 5.2 million people, have received at least one vaccine dose, according to Palestinian officials.

According to a poll released on Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 40% of Palestinians are willing to take the vaccine once it is available, while 35% say they and their families are not willing to get vaccinated.

The Palestinians have received vaccine doses from Israel, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates and the global COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by William Maclean, Timothy Heritage and Frances Kerry)

Israeli nationalists march in East Jerusalem, prompt Palestinian ‘Day of Rage’

By Rami Ayyub

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Far-right Israeli groups will march in and around East Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday in a flag-waving procession that risks igniting tensions with Palestinians in the contested city and rekindling violence between Israel and Gaza militants.

Assailing the march as a “provocation,” Palestinian factions have called for a “Day of Rage” in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas have warned of renewed hostilities if it goes ahead.

“We warn of the dangerous repercussions that may result from the occupying power’s intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Twitter.

An original march was re-routed to avoid the Old City’s Muslim Quarter on May 10 when tensions in Jerusalem led Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas to fire rockets towards the holy city, helping set off 11 days of deadly fighting.

Israeli rightists accused their government of caving into Hamas by changing its route. They rescheduled the procession after a Gaza truce took hold.

Tuesday’s march, due to begin at 6:30 p.m. (1530 GMT), poses an immediate challenge for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took office on Sunday and brought veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s record-long rule to an end.

Bennett’s internal security minister approved the march on Monday.

A route change or cancellation of the procession could expose Bennett’s patchwork coalition to accusations from Netanyahu, now in the opposition, and his right-wing allies of giving Hamas veto power over events in Jerusalem.

“The time has come for Israel to threaten Hamas and not for Hamas to threaten Israel,” prominent far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Twitter.

An official route for the march has yet to be announced. Israeli media reported that police will allow participants to congregate outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate but will not let them cross through it to the Muslim Quarter, which has an overwhelmingly Palestinian population.

Tensions are sure to be high whether or not the route is changed. Palestinian protests were planned for 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) across the Gaza Strip, and Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction have called on Palestinians to flock to the Old City to counter the march.

The Israeli military has made preparations for a possible escalation in Gaza over the march, Israeli media reported, and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem prohibited its employees and their families from entering the Old City on Tuesday.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move that has not won international recognition after capturing the area in a 1967 war, regards the entire city as its capital.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Howard Goller)

Israel says Gaza tower that housed AP doubled as Hamas electronic warfare site

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s military said on Tuesday that a tower block in Gaza housing the U.S.-based Associated Press which was destroyed in an Israeli air strike was also used by the enclave’s Islamist rulers Hamas as an electronic warfare site.

Israel’s destruction of the 12-storey tower, which also housed Qatar-based media group Al Jazeera, during last month’s fighting with Hamas and other militants drew international condemnation and calls by Israel’s main ally the United States to protect journalists.

The al-Jalaa building in Gaza City had been evacuated after its owner received advanced warning of the May 15 strike. But the AP says it has received no evidence of a Hamas presence that posed a threat, and has called for an independent investigation.

AP executives met Israel’s ambassador to Washington and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, on Monday to discuss the building’s destruction.

“Israeli authorities maintain that the building housing our bureau was destroyed because of a Hamas presence that posed an urgent threat. We have yet to receive evidence to support these claims,” the AP said in a statement.

“AP continues to call for the full release of any evidence the Israelis have so that the facts are public.”

In a statement, Erdan reiterated an Israeli claim that the building housed Hamas military intelligence, saying its personnel there were “developing an electronic jamming system to be used against the Iron Dome defense system”.

Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors shot down most of the more than 4,300 rockets fire from Gaza during the 11-day conflict, during which Israeli air strikes and Gaza rocket fire left more than 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel dead.

The Israeli military said the purpose of the strike “was to curtail these enemy capabilities, including destroying special equipment, and preventing their use during the operation…The strike was designed to collapse the building in order to ensure the destruction of the special means.”

Erdan said Israel did all it could to avoid civilian harm.

“AP is one of the most important news agencies in the world and Israel doesn’t think that AP employees were aware it was being cynically used in this way by Hamas for a secret unit,” he said.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub, Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Israeli police bar right-wing march through Jerusalem’s Old City

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israeli far right groups scrapped a planned march through Jerusalem’s Old City after police refused to authorize it amid fears it would rekindle strife that led to 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants last month.

Several groups had planned a flag-waving procession through the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate and into its Muslim quarter this coming Thursday, drawing warnings from Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement of fresh hostilities should it go ahead.

The original march on May 10 was re-routed at the last minute as tensions around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where Palestinian families face eviction, led Hamas to fire rockets towards the holy city.

Israel responded with air strikes, and the most serious cross-border fighting with Hamas in years raged for 11 days before a fragile ceasefire was achieved. Arab-Jewish violence also erupted in several Israeli cities.

Police said on Monday the permit was denied for Thursday’s march to proceed on the date and along the route planned by the organizers, and that an alternative procession would be considered if submitted.

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir said he would nonetheless march along the full route, accusing police of “capitulating to terrorism.”

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza said the police decision stemmed from Israel’s recognition of “the danger of crossing … red lines” set by the group over Israeli activity at sensitive sites in Jerusalem, and “consequences it may bring on the ground”.

It was not immediately clear if police made the move in consultation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, some of whose right-wing members have voiced support for the march as a show of Israel’s claim to sovereignty over East Jerusalem, disputed by Palestinians.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, said on Twitter that the police ban should be reviewed by the government, floating the possibility that it could still be overturned.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem, in a move that has not won international recognition, after capturing the area in the 1967 Middle East war. It considers all of Jerusalem its capital.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Tensions are likely to remain high in Jerusalem even if the march does not go ahead. Protests have flared in Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face possible eviction after an Israeli court accepted Jewish settler land claims.

Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit informed the Supreme Court that he would not intervene in the legal proceedings, paving the way for the court to issue a ruling widely expected to be in favor of the settlers.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in GazaEditing by Jeffrey Heller, Mark Heinrich, Peter Graff)

UN Gaza relief chief called in by bosses after comments over Israeli air strikes

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – The Gaza director of the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian refugees has been called in for consultation with his bosses in Jerusalem after angering Palestinians with comments they said favored Israel during last month’s fighting.

Protests have erupted in the territory over the comments by UNRWA Gaza chief Matthias Schmale in an interview with Israel’s N12 television on May 22, in which he said he did not dispute Israel’s assertion that its air strikes were “precise.”

Eleven days of conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted on May 10. More than 250 Palestinians were killed in hundreds of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. More than 4,000 rockets, many intercepted, fired by Gaza militants killed 13 people in Israel.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the enclave has ridiculed him as “a spokesman for the Israeli military,” Schmale, based in Gaza, has apologized for his remarks in which he was commenting on the ferocity of the air strikes and said: “… precision was there but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side.”

Sami Mshasha, UNRWA’s spokesman in Jerusalem, said on Wednesday Schmale and his deputy had been “called in for consultation and discussion at the Jerusalem headquarters over the latest developments in Gaza.”

Another official told Reuters that Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth would temporarily lead the Gaza team.

UNRWA provides education, health and relief services to around 5.7 million Palestinian registered refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“In the coming few weeks, UNRWA will review the emergency response mechanism in Gaza to determine lessons and conclusions to improve UNRWA’s response and performance during times of crisis and emergency,” Mshasha said in a statement.

In a statement on May 25, Schmale said in apology: “There is no justification whatsoever for killing civilians.” He said: “Military precision and sophistication are never a justification for war.”

Israel’s foreign ministry has said its forces acted “in accordance with international law, in defending our citizens from Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire.”

(Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Stephen Farrell, Maayan Lubell and Alison Williams)

U.S. senator expects U.S. to send more funds for Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A senior U.S. senator said on Tuesday he expected Washington would quickly authorize as much as $1 billion for Israel to replenish its Iron Dome missile defense system after clashes in May with Hamas.

“There will be a $1 billion request coming to the Pentagon this week from the (Israeli) defense minister to replenish the Iron Dome and a few other things, to upgrade the system,” Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters in Jerusalem.

A senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Graham met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a trip to Israel. The committee oversees spending including foreign military aid.

Graham said Iron Dome had saved thousands of lives during last month’s rocket attacks, and predicted Israel’s request would find favor with both President Joe Biden and Congress, which is narrowly controlled by Biden’s Democrats.

“There’s been a big dustup over the last engagement between Hamas and the State of Israel in the United States, but I’m here to tell you that there’s a wide and deep support for Israel among the Democratic Party,” Graham said.

Biden has said he would replenish Iron Dome, which helped Israel fend off most of the more than 4300 rockets fired from Gaza during the conflict.

Israel and Hamas began a ceasefire on May 21 after 11 days of the fiercest Israeli-Palestinian hostilities in years, with nearly 250 people dead, all but 13 of them Palestinians.

Israel’s fierce response drew criticism from some Democrats, but Israel generally enjoys strong support in Washington from both parties. Congress routinely approves large sums on military funding for a country seen as a solid U.S. partner in an unstable region.

Israel’s Defense Ministry said Gantz would meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday in Washington for a discussion on issues including Iran and military aid.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Writing by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.N. launches investigation into whether Israel, Hamas committed crimes

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) -The United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Thursday to launch an international investigation into alleged crimes committed during the 11-day conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

The independent investigation will have a broad mandate to look into all alleged violations, not just in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, but also in Israel during hostilities that were halted by a ceasefire on May 21.

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, earlier told the council that deadly Israeli strikes on Gaza might constitute war crimes and that Hamas had violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets into Israel.

Israel rejected the resolution adopted by the Geneva forum and said it would not cooperate.

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession,” Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement accusing the forum of whitewashing “a genocidal terrorist organization”.

Israel’s foreign ministry said its forces acted “in accordance with international law, in defending our citizens from Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire”.

A spokesman for Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, called the group’s actions “legitimate resistance” and called for “immediate steps to punish” Israel.

Israel’s main ally, the United States, said it deeply regretted the decision in the forum, where it has observer status and no vote.

“The action today instead threatens to imperil the progress that has been made,” said a statement released by the U.S. mission to the U.N. in Geneva.

By a vote of 24 states in favor, and nine against, with 14 abstentions, the 47-member council adopted a resolution brought by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations.

European countries were split, with Austria, Britain and Germany voting against. France and the Netherlands abstained.

BACHELET ADDRESSES COUNCIL

Bachelet told the council her office had verified the deaths of 270 Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 68 children, during this month’s violence. Most were killed in Gaza.

Hamas rockets killed 10 Israelis and residents, she said. Israeli authorities put the number of those killed by Palestinian attacks in Israel at 13.

“Regrettably, the self-professed global champions of human rights continue to shield the occupier from global accountability, and literally provide arms and ammunitions for its widely reported war crimes and crimes of apartheid against the Palestinian people,” said Pakistan’s ambassador to the OIC, Khalil Hashmi, who was speaking on behalf of the OIC.

The conflict flared after Hamas demanded Israeli security forces leave the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem following confrontations there with Palestinians, and later launched rockets towards Israel.

The compound sits atop the Old City plateau known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Temple Mount. It is the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bachelet said “indiscriminate” strikes from rockets launched by Hamas constituted “a clear violation of international humanitarian law”.

She said Israel’s strikes in Gaza caused widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure and fatalities.

“Despite Israel’s claims that many of these buildings were hosting armed groups or being used for military purposes, we have not seen evidence in this regard,” Bachelet said.

“If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate, such attacks might constitute war crimes,” she added.

(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Dan Williams and Jonathan Saul in Jerusalem and Nidal Al-Mughrabi in Ramallah; Editing by Peter Graff, Edmund Blair and Timothy Heritage)

Blinken announces U.S. aid to Gaza, pledges to reopen Jerusalem consulate

By Ali Sawafta and Jeffrey Heller

RAMALLAH, West Bank/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged on a Middle East mission on Tuesday that Washington would provide new aid to help rebuild Gaza as part of efforts to bolster a ceasefire between its Hamas Islamist rulers and Israel.

Hoping to reverse a move taken by former President Donald Trump that angered Palestinians, Blinken said the United States would advance the process of re-opening the Jerusalem consulate that had served as its diplomatic channel to the Palestinians.

Speaking alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Blinken said the United States would provide an additional $75 million in development and economic aid to the Palestinians in 2021, $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief for Gaza and $32 million to U.N. Palestinian aid agency.

But Blinken reiterated that Washington intended to ensure that Hamas, which it regards as a terrorist organization, did not benefit from the humanitarian aid – a potentially difficult task in an enclave over which it has a strong grip.

Blinken began his regional visit in Jerusalem, where he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, speaking to reporters with the top U.S. diplomat at his side, threatened a “very powerful response” if Hamas renewed cross-border rocket strikes.

The truce, brokered by Egypt and coordinated with the United States, began on Friday after 11 days of the worst fighting between Palestinian militants and Israel in years. Now in its fifth day, it has been holding.

“We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges,” Blinken said.

“And that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.”

Blinken will be in the region through Thursday, and will also travel to Egypt and Jordan. In tandem with his visit, Israeli authorities allowed fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza’s private sector to enter the territory for the first time since the hostilities began on May 10.

Blinken said re-opening the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem would be “an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people”.

The Trump administration merged the consulate with the U.S. Embassy in Israel in 2019, two years after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Those moves broke with long-standing U.S. policy and infuriated Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as capital of future state.

Israel deems all of Jerusalem, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as its undivided capital.

Biden has no plans to reverse the embassy relocation but has moved in the early months of his term to repair relations with Palestinians. In April, Biden restored hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid cut by Trump.

Speaking alongside Blinken, Abbas thanked the U.S. “for its commitment to the two-state solution (and maintaining) the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif,” a Jerusalem compound holy to Muslims and Jews that contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.

Abbas also thanked Blinken for what he called American support “for the preservation of (Palestinian) residents of … Sheikh Jarrah,” an East Jerusalem neighborhood where the potential evictions of Palestinian families helped spark the Israel-Gaza fighting.

TWO STATES

Negotiations between Israel and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank, collapsed in 2014.

While Biden has said a two-state solution was the only answer to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, U.S. officials have suggested it was too early for wider peace talks.

Israel is in political flux after four inconclusive elections in two years, and the Palestinians are divided by enmity between Hamas and Abbas, who holds sway in the West Bank.

Blinken said he and Netanyahu discussed “other steps” that need to be taken by leaders on both sides to set “a better course” for Israelis and Palestinians.

“As President Biden said, we believe that Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, to enjoy equal measures of freedom, opportunity and democracy, to be treated with dignity,” Blinken said.

At least 254 people were killed in Gaza and more than 1,900 wounded, Palestinian health authorities said, during the fighting that saw hundreds of Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli military put the death toll in Israel at 13, with hundreds treated for injuries after rocket salvoes caused panic and sent people as far away as Tel Aviv rushing into shelters.

Commercial buildings, residential towers and private houses across the Gaza Strip, where two million people live, were damaged or destroyed by the time the ceasefire was announced.

In Gaza, Palestinian officials estimated reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars. Israel has blockaded the territory since 2007, in what Palestinians condemn as collective punishment. Egypt also maintains restrictions on its border with Gaza. Both countries cite security concerns for the measures.

Israel says air strikes hit legitimate military targets and that it did its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, including giving prior warnings when it was about to strike residential buildings that it said also had a military use.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by William Maclean)