Israel blocks visit of UN envoy to Palestine

Israel blocks visit of UN envoy to Palestine
2 min read
15 June, 2015
Israel has barred UN rights envoy Makarim Wibisono from visiting the Palestinian territories for a second time, as United Nations prepares to publish report on the 2014 war on Gaza.
Bomb damaged homes from last year's war still scar the landscape [Getty]

Israel has blocked a UN rights envoy from visiting the Palestinian territories, an official said Monday, just ahead of the publication of a United Nations report on last year's Gaza war.

This is the second time that Makarim Wibisono, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has been barred entry.

The UN Human Rights Council, to which Wibisono reports, has been conducting an investigation into the actions of both Israel and Palestinian militants during last year's conflict.

Its report is expected to be published in the coming days, and the council is scheduled to debate it on June 29.

The UN's human rights chief, speaking at the opening of the council's 29th session in Geneva on Monday, confirmed the publication was imminent.

"It is my hope the report will pave the way for justice to be done to all civilians who fell victim to the fighting last year, by holding to account those alleged to have committed grave and other serious violations of international humanitarian law," High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

The war killed 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

While Wibisono reports to the council, his visit was for a separate, annual assessment in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Israel barred him from entering last year for a similar visit.

In a report released Sunday, Israel defended its conduct in the July-August Gaza war against Islamist movement Hamas, calling it both "lawful" and "legitimate".

But the UN has said Israel was responsible for the deadly bombing of several UN institutions, including schools, in which displaced Palestinian civilians were sheltering.