Türk urges all States to act over crises in Gaza, West Bank


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk urges all States with influence to do everything in their power to halt the increasingly horrific human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, rising violence and targeted attacks in the West Bank, and the heightened risk of wider escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Resolving the catastrophic situation of civilians in Gaza must remain a priority.

Israel continues to impose unlawful restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian assistance, and to carry out widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure. The High Commissioner repeats that there must be an immediate ceasefire, the hostages must be released, and full, unfettered humanitarian aid must be allowed to flow immediately. Those delivering or trying to access humanitarian assistance must never be attacked.

No area of the Gaza Strip has been spared from Israel’s bombardment. Nearly 1.7 million people remain forcibly displaced, living in appalling conditions and under constant threat. In the past week alone, fighting has intensified in Middle Gaza leading to the displacement of some 10,000 people from in and around An Nuseirat camp and near Wadi Gaza. We have also received reports that during Eid al-Fitr last week, the Israel Defense Forces attacked at least eight mosques in An Nuseirat and Gaza City, and struck a further three on 14 April. Since October 2023, 534 mosques have been destroyed or damaged according to the Gaza Government Media Office. Places of worship are protected under the laws of war.

On 14 April, Israeli Defense Forces reportedly opened fire on a group of Palestinians on Al Rashid Road who were attempting to return to their homes in northern Gaza, killing at least one Palestinian woman and injuring at least 11 others. Intentional targeting and killing of civilians is a war crime.

In the West Bank, escalating violence over the past few days is also a matter of grave concern. Palestinians have been subjected to waves of attacks by hundreds of Israeli settlers, often accompanied or supported by Israeli Security Forces (ISF). Following the killing of a 14-year-old Israeli boy from a settler family, four Palestinians, including a child, were killed and Palestinian property was destroyed in revenge attacks.

According to information received by the UN Human Rights Office, armed settlers and Israeli forces entered a number of towns including Al Mughayyer, Khirbit Abu Falah, Kufer Malilk, Al Mazra’a Asharqiya, Beitin village in Ramallah, Duma and Qusra in Nablus, as well as the Bethlehem and Hebron Governorates. Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured, including through the use of firearms, by settlers and ISF, and hundreds of homes and other buildings, as well as cars, were torched. Three Israeli soldiers suffered injuries after they were hit with stones. It was also reported that settlers established at least two new outposts in the past two days in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills, near Palestinian communities which have been repeatedly attacked by settlers in the past months and are at imminent risk of being forcibly transferred from their homes and land.

Israel, as the occupying power, must take all measures in its power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety in the occupied West Bank. This obligation includes protecting Palestinians from settler attacks, and ending unlawful use of force against Palestinians by the ISF.

The Israeli Security Forces must immediately end their active participation in and support for settler attacks on Palestinians. Israeli authorities must instead prevent further attacks, including by bringing those responsible to account. Those reasonably suspected of criminal acts, including murder or other unlawful killings, must be brought to justice through a judicial process that complies with international human rights standards, following a prompt, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation.

Neither Palestinians nor Israelis should take the law into their own hands to exact revenge.

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