‘Urgent steps’ needed to end surge in violence across West Bank
Insecurity and violence increased rapidly in the occupied West Bank over the last month, punctuated by one of the most intensive Israeli military operations in nearly two decades, the Security Council heard on Thursday.
“This deterioration is taking place alongside ongoing unilateral steps that undermine a two-State solution, the absence of a peace process and the continuing economic challenges facing Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority (PA),” said Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, briefing ambassadors.
“It is critical that all parties take urgent steps to stop the downward spiral and engage with each other to seek a constructive path forward,” he stressed.
Scores of deaths, injuries
Since 27 July, 21 Palestinians - including five children – have been killed, along with nearly 250 injured, by Israeli security forces carrying out search-and-arrest and counter-protest operations; as well as during attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis, and other violent incidents.
Another 20 Palestinians, including five children, were injured by Israeli settlers or other civilians, Mr. Khiari said.
According to Israeli sources, two members of the Israeli security forces were killed and eight injured, while another 39 Israelis, including three children, were injured by Palestinians in shooting and ramming attacks, through stone throwing and Molotov cocktails, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other incidents, he added.
Operation in Jenin camp
He highlighted the 3 to 4 July Israeli military operation in the Jenin Refugee Camp, marked by multiple drone airstrikes and the use of over 1,000 ground troops.
The resulting deaths and injuries were the worst in a single operation in the West Bank since the UN began tracking casualties in 2005, Mr. Khiari told ambassadors.
Targeted sites included locations adjacent to UN facilities and a school, while exchanges of fire took place near health facilities. The only health clinic in the camp - run by the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA – was damaged and remains closed, he said
The operation also had a significant humanitarian toll on the camp and its residents, with over 460 houses damaged, roads dug up and families displaced.
A number of priority needs have been identified by UN and humanitarian partners, including clearing unexploded ordnance, restoring water and sewage services, and repairing and restocking medical facilities.
Attacks against Israelis
A number of attacks were also carried out by Palestinians against Israelis, including a ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv that injured eight Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, on 4 July, informed Mr. Khiari.
Militants in Gaza fired five rockets from Gaza towards Israel, responding to the operation in Jenin, on the night of 4 July, Mr. Khiari added.
All were intercepted by Israel’s aerial defence system, with shrapnel landing in the city of Sderot. In response, the Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes against what it said were Hamas targets in the Strip.
Targeting of civilians unacceptable
Mr. Khiari underscored that targeting civilians, including children, was unacceptable and must be condemned and rejected by all.
“All perpetrators of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice,” he said.
“Israel has an obligation to protect Palestinians and their property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure prompt, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into all acts of violence.”
In his briefing, Mr. Khiari also spoke of demolitions by Israeli authorities of Palestinian-owned buildings, as well as evictions.