UN agency calls for robust political action to halt escalating violence in Gaza and the West Bank

12 October 2015

Deeply alarmed by the escalating violence and widespread loss of civilian life in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today called for strong and immediate political action and accountability to stem the ongoing violence and prevent its further escalation.

“We condemn killings and injuries of Palestine refugees such as the tragic case on 5 October, of Abd El Rahman, a 13-year-old ninth grade student at an UNRWA school who was shot dead by Israeli Forces in Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp,” said the agency in a press statement.

The initial UNRWA investigation indicates that the child was with a group of friends next to the UNRWA office after the school day was over and was not posing any threat.

According to UNRWA, a total of 11 Palestinians have been killed and at least 186 have been injured in Gaza. Nine people, including three children were reportedly killed during demonstrations in Gaza and a pregnant woman and a child were killed when a house collapsed in a nearby area due to the impact of an Israeli strike.

The UN agency also recorded 45 incursions by Israeli forces in refugee camps resulting in several refugees being shot dead, including one child.

UNRWA's preliminary figures indicate that 180 people have been injured in West Bank refugee camps, including 20 children, and about 50 were injured due to live-fire.

“UNRWA reiterates the call of the United Nations Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon], on all sides to respect and protect the rights of children, in particular their inherent right to life. We call for maximum restraint to ensure the protection of civilians, in accordance with international law,” said the statement.

Earlier, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights had also voiced extreme concerns over escalating concerns and warned that further bloodshed will offer no solution in the long run.

Further, the UN agency reported that the high number of casualties resulting from live ammunition by Israeli forces raises serious concerns about violations of international law enforcement standards.

UNRWA stressed that the root causes of the conflict, including the Israeli occupation, need to be addressed. It reported of a “pervasive sense of hopelessness and despair'” that is spreading across the occupied Palestinian territory due to “the denial of rights and dignity.”

“While in Gaza the latest demonstrations are evidence of a generation that has lost hope in the future; not least because of the lack of economic prospects – youth unemployment is one of the highest in the world – but also because of the lack of reconstruction more than a year after the conflict.

“An entire generation of Palestinians is at risk. All political actors must act decisively to restore their hope in a dignified, secure and stable future,” the statement concluded.


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‘Extremely concerned’ by escalating West Bank violence, UN rights chief urges restraint

Voicing extreme concern over escalating tensions and rapidly-spreading violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the United Nations human rights chief today called for urgent action by both Israelis and Palestinians to halt the violence, while stressing the need to ensure security forces comply with international standards and respect for human rights.