AMMAN: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that Israel must take immediate measures to protect Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as they find themselves targeted by more violence since the Israeli-Hamas war erupted last month.
Volker Turk said at least 176 Palestinians, including 43 children and one woman, had been killed in incidents involving Israeli security forces since the beginning of October. At least eight Palestinians had been killed by Israeli settlers.
Before the start of the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas on Oct. 7, it was already the deadliest year on record for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with about 200 killed.
“I …appeal as a matter of urgency for Israeli authorities to take immediate measures, to take steps to ensure the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank, who are being on a daily basis subjected to violence from Israeli forces and settlers, ill treatment, arrests, evictions, intimidation and humiliation,” Turk told reporters in Jordan’s capital Amman.
The worsening violence in the West Bank has fueled concerns that the Palestinian territory could become a third front in a wider war, in addition to Israel’s northern border where clashes with Lebanese Hezbollah forces have taken place.
“It is Israel’s duty to ensure that all incidents of violence are promptly and effectively investigated, and that victims are provided with effective remedies,” Turk said.
“Continued widespread impunity for such violations is unacceptable, dangerous, and it is in clear violation of Israel’s obligation under international human rights law.”
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and said it has also been conducting counter-terrorism operations against militants from the group and other Palestinian armed factions in the West Bank.
Over the past 18 months, Israeli troops have killed hundreds of Palestinians — hardened militant fighters, stone-throwing youths and uninvolved civilians — and made thousands of arrests across the West Bank. In the same period, dozens of Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians.