GENEVA (23 June 2023) – UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk today warned this week’s violence in the Occupied West Bank risks spiralling out of control, fuelled by strident political rhetoric and an escalation in the use of advanced military weaponry by Israel.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights said the sharp deterioration was having a terrible impact on both Palestinians and Israelis, and called for an immediate end to the violence.
Following Monday’s Israeli Security Forces’ operation in Jenin Refugee Camp that killed at least seven Palestinians, including a boy and a girl, and injured at least 91 Palestinians and seven Israeli soldiers, Türk issued a reminder to Israeli authorities of their obligations under international law with respect to the use of lethal force.
The Israeli Security Forces conducted a series of airstrikes on Jenin Refugee camp in the Occupied West Bank, in a major intensification of the use of weaponry more generally associated with the conduct of armed hostilities rather than a law enforcement operation. On Wednesday evening, there were further reports of an Israeli military drone strike near Jenin, killing three Palestinian men alleged to be members of a militant group.
International human rights law requires Israeli authorities to ensure that all operations are planned and implemented to minimize the use of lethal force. Furthermore, every death caused in such context by Israeli forces requires an effective investigation and, where there is sufficient evidence that there have been violations of national or international law, suspected perpetrators must be held to account.
“Israel must urgently reset its policies and actions in the Occupied West Bank in line with international human rights standards, including protecting and respecting the right to life,” the High Commissioner said. “As the occupying power, Israel also has obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure public order and safety within the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Following the Jenin raid, four Israeli settlers were killed on Tuesday by two armed Palestinian men near the Israeli settlement of Eli in the Occupied West Bank. The High Commissioner was appalled that such killings were celebrated by some Palestinians.
This week there have also been reports of several Palestinian communities being assaulted by Israeli settlers, as well as reports of confrontations between Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli Security Forces, and Palestinians at Tumusai'ya village in Ramallah, where Israeli settlers allegedly set fire to dozens of Palestinian vehicles and homes. Reports indicate that four Palestinians were shot, one fatally, with live ammunition at Tumusai'ya.
Türk said, “these latest killings and the violence, along with the inflammatory rhetoric, serve only to drive Israelis and Palestinians deeper into an abyss.”
So far this year, Israeli Security Forces have killed at least 126 Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Among them were 21 boys and one girl. Over the whole of 2022, 155 Palestinians were killed by Israeli Security Forces in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, representing the highest number in the past 17 years. The highest number of Israelis were killed last year since 2016.
Türk reiterated that the underlying dynamics leading to the widespread violence and arbitrary loss of life needs to be addressed with urgency, requiring political will from Israel and Palestinians as well as the international community:
“For this violence to end, the occupation must end,” he said. “On all sides, the people with the political power know this and must instigate immediate steps to realize this.”
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