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UN decries 'unfathomable' killings in West Bank since October 7

By AFP

June 4, 2024 10:35 PM


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The UN rights chief on Tuesday demanded an end to violence in the occupied West Bank, saying it was "unfathomable" that more than 500 Palestinians had been killed there since October 7.

In a statement, slammed by Israel, Volker Turk said at least 505 Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank by the Israeli military, other security forces and West Bank settlers since the war in Gaza erupted nearly eight months ago.

Palestinian officials have given a toll of at least 523.

Two dozen Israelis, including eight soldiers, have also been killed in West Bank clashes or alleged attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank during the same period, Turk said.

"As if the tragic events in Israel and then Gaza over the past eight months were not enough, the people of the occupied West Bank are also being subjected to day after day of unprecedented bloodshed," he said.

"It is unfathomable that so many lives have been taken in such a wanton fashion."

Israel swiftly denounced the statement, pointing to Hamas's October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive have to date killed 36,550 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

  'Pervasive impunity' 

 Since October 7, "terrorist activity has drastically increased in the West Bank", Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said in a statement, claiming Palestinians had in the past eight months carried out "more than 500 terrorist attacks".

"This is the reality that the high commissioner chooses to ignore and dismiss," it said, insisting that "Israel will not allow the West Bank to be turned into another terrorist stronghold".

Israel would continue to battle "Palestinian terrorism... in line with international law", it added.

In his statement, Turk meanwhile stressed that the violence had "instilled fear and insecurity among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank".

He insisted "the killing, destruction and widespread human rights violations are unacceptable, and must cease immediately", and demanded that Israel enforce the rules of engagement that are in line with human rights standards.

Turk decried "pervasive impunity" in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, and which had seen a surge in violence even before October 7.

He pointed to a case over the weekend in which Israeli forces shot dead a teenager and critically injured another who later died near Jericho in the West Bank.

He said security camera footage indicated that the boys were shot while running away after throwing stones and/or Molotov cocktails towards a military post.

The Israeli security forces, his statement lamented, had often used lethal force "as a first resort against Palestinian protesters... in cases where those shot clearly did not represent an imminent threat to life".


AFP


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