Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

UNHRC chief Michelle Bachelet criticises Israel's dismissing of report alleging war crimes in Gaza

UN urges restraint as anniversary of Palestinian 'Great March of Return' approaches

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented her annual report to council members in Geneva. AFP
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented her annual report to council members in Geneva. AFP

The head of the UN's Human Rights Council on Wednesday said she was disappointed at the dismissal of a report which accused Israel of breaking international law by killing Palestinian protesters.

Michelle Bachelet called for both Israel and Palestine to exercise restraint before the first anniversary of the Gaza protests on March 30.

Ms Bachelet was speaking at the presentation of her annual report at the UN's headquarters in Geneva. The report stated that Israel might have committed war crimes in using live fire against protesters in Gaza, killing 189 Palestinians, including doctors and journalists. It recommended the country be referred to the International Criminal Court.

The UNHRC chief said she regretted Israel's "immediate dismissal" of the report "without addressing any of the very serious issues raised".

"All parties concerned should exercise restraint as the date of March 30 approaches," Ms Bachelet said, referring to the first day of the "Great March of Return" – weekly Friday protests demanding the return of Palestinian refugees and the removal of the blockade on Gaza.

Israel said the report was false and complained of anti-Israel bias in the Human Rights Council.

"The Human Rights Council's theatre of the absurd has once again produced a report that is hostile, mendacious and biased against Israel," acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said last week.

"No one can deny Israel the right to self-defence and the obligation to protect its citizens and its borders against violent attacks," he said.

Israel withdrew from the council last year citing bias against the country.

Ms Bachelet, a former president of Chile, made the comments during a speech at the UN Human Rights Council during which she reported on human rights issues surrounding women, conflicts and drug abuse.

She also asked China for access to jailed Uighur Muslims, criticised India for "divisive policies" against Muslims and praised Ethiopia for its progress in gender parity and peacemaking.

Updated: March 6, 2019 03:23 PM