(CNN)A UN-backed independent panel said Thursday it had "reasonable grounds" to believe Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes and shot at journalists, health workers and children during protests in Gaza in 2018.
UN: Israel may have committed war crimes during Gaza protests
Israel has "utterly rejected" the report, saying its outcome had been determined before the investigation began.
In its report, published Thursday, the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry into the protests -- known to Palestinians as the "Great March of Return" -- said it conducted 325 interviews with victims, witnesses and sources, gathered more than 8,000 documents, and analyzed social media and drone footage.
"The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel," Santiago Canton, the Chair of the Commission, said.
The panel said it "found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such."
Israel refused to take part in the inquiry and the country's acting Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz rejected the UN report as "theater of the absurd." He called the UN report "hostile, false and incorrect."