Comment by the UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk on Israeli-Palestinian violence


The recent operation in the Occupied West Bank and car ramming attack in Tel Aviv worryingly underscore an all too familiar pattern of events: that violence only begets more violence. The killing, maiming and the destruction of property must stop.

Overnight 3,000 Palestinians reportedly fled Jenin camp after a wave of deadly air strikes on the camp. Then, this morning seven people were hurt in a car ramming attack in Tel Aviv.

The scale of the Israeli Security Forces’ ongoing operation in Jenin, including the use of repeated airstrikes, along with the destruction of property, raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards, including protecting and respecting the right to life.

Some of the methods and weapons used during the operations by ISF in the Jenin Refugee Camp and surrounding areas are more generally associated with the conduct of hostilities in armed conflict, rather than law enforcement. The use of airstrikes is inconsistent with rules applicable to the conduct of law enforcement operations. In a context of occupation, the deaths resulting from such airstrikes may also amount to wilful killings. Israeli forces operations in the occupied West Bank need to abide by international human rights standards on the use of force; these standards do not change simply because the goal of the operation is stated as “counter-terrorism”.

International human rights law sets clear obligations on Israel, as the occupying power, to ensure that all operations are planned and controlled so as to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, resort to force and in particular lethal force. Israel must also ensure timely access to medical care to all those injured.

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