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Press briefing notes on Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 18 November 2014
Subjects: (1) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory (2) Yemen

(1) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

We are alarmed by the recent series of violent incidents in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Early this morning, at least four Israelis were killed and eight others injured, in an attack in a Jerusalem synagogue. On Sunday, a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his bus in Jerusalem in unclear circumstances. At least six other people -- including five Israelis and one Ecuadorean -- have been killed in the past month in alleged attacks involving cars driven at people and knife attacks. At least three Palestinian suspects were killed when Israeli security forces reacted to these incidents.

In response, Israel has reportedly announced that it will demolish or seal six homes of Palestinians allegedly involved in previous attacks.

We condemn all acts of violence, which have resulted in deaths and injuries. Israel has a duty to ensure law and order, including by bringing to justice those responsible for these attacks, but any response must be in accordance with international law. We urge Israeli authorities to refrain from taking measures, such as punitive demolitions, which violate international law and may further inflame the situation.

We also continue to follow with concern the extremely tense and volatile situation across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. There are near daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces that have resulted in deaths and injuries, including as a result of the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces.

We call on Israelis and Palestinians to exercise restraint, and for all responses to the escalating situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be grounded in respect for human rights.

(2) Yemen

We are deeply concerned about the lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses that have occurred in Yemen in recent months. The UN Human Rights Office in Yemen has documented serious violations committed by all sides, including the killing of civilians, arbitrary detentions, the recruitment of children and the targeting of schools and hospitals as well as private property. Children have been seen manning checkpoints, on board armed vehicles, patrolling streets and present in schools that were being used for military purposes. Our staff in Yemen continues efforts to document civilian deaths and injuries, but some families have been afraid of speaking out for fear of reprisals.

No official investigations have thus far been initiated into these violations. We urge the authorities to ensure that violations of international human rights law are promptly investigated by independent and impartial bodies in order to ensure that victims’ right to justice and remedy is upheld. In 2011, we recommended to the government to establish a national commission of inquiry to look into violations. Unfortunately, this recommendation was never acted upon.

We also urge all parties involved in the recent violence in the south of the country to ensure immediate access to humanitarian assistance in areas affected by the conflict, including in Al-Shabwa and Al-Baida Governorates. We are closely monitoring the situation in the south and call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and to resolve their differences peacefully.

We commend the national efforts which resulted in the formation of the new Government. We call on all sides of the political divide in Yemen to renounce the use of violence and to participate in the ongoing national processes including the drafting of the new Constitution and the implementation of the outcomes of the national dialogue to avoid a descent into further instability and bloodshed. The UN Human Rights Office, together with other UN bodies present in Yemen, continues to be closely involved in the constitution-building and reform processes in the country. We encourage more cooperation with the Secretary General's Special Advisor on Yemen.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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