Jeffrey Heller
January 28, 2010 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday an Israeli army field hospital that treated earthquake victims in Haiti had given Israel an image boost, after allegations of war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

"Especially at a time when there are those plotting against us, distorting facts and slandering us, you showed the real face of the Israel Defence Forces," Netanyahu said at an airport ceremony welcoming home the military medical team.

Netanyahu has lashed out at a U.N. panel's report in September that cited evidence Israel unlawfully targeted Palestinian civilians in the war it launched in Gaza a year ago with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket attacks.

Israel has boycotted the panel, headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, and brushed off its findings, calling them biased in favour of Gaza's Hamas Islamist rulers.

Israeli military medical personnel arrived in Haiti three days after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck on Jan. 12. More than 1,100 patients were treated at the Israeli tent hospital and 16 children were born there.

"You have raised human spirits and elevated the name of the State of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces," Netanyahu told the returning doctors, nurses and paramedics.


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