UN Human Rights Chief Raps Israel Over 'Immediate Dismissal' of Report on Killed Gaza Protesters

Michelle Bachelet calls Israel out for failing to address 'any of the very serious issues raised' after Netanyahu said the human rights council 'set new records of hypocrisy'

Palestinians run through tear gas fumes during clashes following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on March 1, 2019.
AFP

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that she regretted Israel's "immediate dismissal" of a UN report on its security forces killing protesters in Gaza "without addressing any of the very serious issues raised". 

Independent UN investigators found last week that Israeli security forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in killing 189 Palestinians and wounding more than 6,100 at weekly protests in Gaza last year. 

>>Read more: First Israel suffocates Gazans, then we say we're worried about their fate | Analysis ■ Welcome to the Palestine Circus | Opinion ■ The Palestinian Authority is in meltdown – and Israel won't escape unscathed | Analysis 

"All parties concerned should exercise restraint as the date of March 30 approaches," Bachelet said, referring to the first anniversary of the protests, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council.

The findings were rejected by several Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Israel outright rejects the report: "The council has set new records of hypocrisy and lies out of an obsessive hatred for Israel."

Netanyahu added that Israel will continue to "fiercely defend its sovereignty and citizens against Hamas attacks and Iran-backed terror organizations."

The investigative commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council said it found "reasonable grounds" that Israeli security forces violated international law. 

The commission determined that the majority of Gaza protesters who were killed by Israeli forces had been  unarmed. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 5, 2018.
Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The panel also recommended that UN members consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze, on those identified as responsible by the commission. 

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz called the report "hostile, mendacious and biased." 

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in response: “It’s hard to imagine the UN could sink any lower. Alternating between excusing terror to ignoring terror it is letting down democracies and backing dictators and tyrants.”