A special UN officer, who planned to travel to the Palestinian territories to document human rights conditions, was reportedly denied entry to Israel on Monday, Israeli and UN officials said
Border police prevented Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Israeli conduct in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from entering Israel when he arrived at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Falk had angered Israel by making remarks comparing its forces' actions in the Gaza Strip to those of the Nazis in wartime Europe. He was put on a plane back to Geneva on Monday.
UN officials said Falk, who is Jewish, has been tasked with preparing reports on human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "He was coming to follow up on his mandate, meet people and collect first-hand information," a UN official said.
A US professor, Falk is fiercely critical of what he describes as "pro-Israel" influence on US foreign policies.
Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Falk was denied entry because his mandate from the UN's Human Rights Council was "profoundly distorted and conceived as an anti-Israel initiative".
"It has nothing to do with the promotion of human rights," Palmor said, noting that Falk's mandate allows him to report only on Israeli violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the territories.
Israel argues that Palestinian attacks on civilian targets in Israel are in breach of global pacts and should be condemned.
The human rights group Adalah protested Israel's decision to deport Falk, calling it a "severe blow to the rights of the Palestinian civilian population living under Israeli occupation".