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AFP
May 12, 2021

UN ‘deeply concerned’ at escalation in Israeli, Palestinian violence

AFP
May 12, 2021

GENEVA: The United Nations rights office said on Tuesday it was “deeply concerned” over the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, east Jerusalem and Israel.

“We condemn all violence and all incitement to violence and ethnic division and provocations,” spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva. He said Israeli security forces must allow the freedom of expression, association and assembly.

“No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully,” said the spokesman from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. When use of force is necessary, it should comply fully with international human rights standards, he added.

Colville said the office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was particularly concerned about the impact of the violence on children. “Detained children should be released,” he said. “Things need to calm down,” Colville added.

Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday, with 22 Palestinians killed in Gaza, in a dramatic escalation between the bitter rivals sparked by unrest at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Tensions in Jerusalem have flared into the city’s worst disturbances since 2017 since Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinian worshippers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Separately, Amnesty International said Israel is using “abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters” in east Jerusalem clashes that have wounded hundreds of demonstrators and dozens of police.

Israel on Tuesday firmly defended the conduct of its officers, insisting they have responded to violent Palestinian rioters with appropriate measures.

But the London-based human rights group described some of those measures as “disproportionate and unlawful”, accusing security forces of “unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators”.

Amnesty’s statement came amid surging tension in Israeli-annexed Jerusalem, much of it concentrated at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site.

At Al-Aqsa and in clashes elsewhere in east Jerusalem, police used stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and skunk water cannons in response to Palestinians who hurled stones, bottles and fireworks at officers.

Amnesty said Israel has used excessive force over multiple weeks of east Jerusalem protests. The rights group called on the international community “to hold Israel accountable for its systemic violations”.

The group Save the Children, also based in London, said it was “horrified” by the Israeli air strikes and demanded a stop to “the indiscriminate targeting and killing of civilians”.