OHCHR – UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Author)
the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel over the past month.
Last weekend saw Israeli security forces injure around 180 Palestinians, including at least 27 children during tensions in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. The witnessed conduct of Israeli security forces in particular on 15 April, captured in numerous videos, raises serious concerns that the use of force was widespread, unnecessary and indiscriminate. A number of Palestinians, including elderly, women, children and at least one journalist, who did not appear to pose any threat to the Israeli security forces in any manner, were beaten with batons or shot with sponge-tipped bullets from close range. Many sustained broken bones. Some were injured from stun grenades including some directly striking their heads.
In Jerusalem, between 15 and 17 April, Israeli police reportedly arrested over 470 people, including 60 children. Prisoners’ organisations have raised concerns that some of them were injured at the time of arrest, and that many were prevented from receiving legal aid. All of these 470 have reportedly now been released. Most of those released were prohibited from entering Al Aqsa Mosque compound or the Old City of Jerusalem in the coming weeks as a condition of release.
At around 6:30 am yesterday, 21 April, Israeli police reportedly raided the yards of Al Aqsa Mosque compound and used force to push Palestinians out of the area. Reportedly, Israeli security forces confined dozens of Palestinians inside Al Qibli mosque, and six people were injured by sponge-tipped bullets. Last night and early this morning yet more violence has been reported in the compound, with a journalist, an elderly person and a paramedic among those injured by Israeli forces.
The use of force in law enforcement operations is strictly limited and governed by international norms and standards. The use of force by Israeli police resulting in widespread injuries among worshippers and staff in and around the Al Aqsa Mosque compound must be promptly, impartially, independently and transparently investigated. Those responsible for any violations should be held to account, and policies and procedures on the use of force reviewed with a view to avoid any further violations.
The tension in Jerusalem has impacted other areas. Between 18 and 21 April, Palestinian armed groups launched six rockets and one mortar shell towards Israel. One of the rockets caused some damage to a residential building. Israel responded by striking several armed groups’ military sites across the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in either Israel or Gaza.
These latest events follow weeks of violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel. In the most serious attacks in Israel in many years, 14 people were killed by attackers in incidents in Beersheba, Bnei Brak, Hadera and Tel Aviv. Among those losing their lives were 12 Israelis and two foreign nationals.
Israel’s intensified military operations in the West Bank, in particular in Jenin, and the use of firearms by Palestinian militants place Palestinian residents at high risk. In April so far, Israeli security forces have killed 19 Palestinians, including three boys and three women, and injured tens of others. Israeli security forces have also intensified raids and arrest operations across the West Bank, raising serious concerns of excessive use of force and ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests of family members of wanted people. Some of the killings, including in particular Israeli security forces shooting at a Palestinian woman in Husan on 10 April, raise serious concerns of excessive use of force and arbitrary deprivation of life. All use of force resulting in killing or injury must be promptly, impartially, independently and transparently investigated, and those responsible for any violations held to account.
The response by Israeli authorities to the attacks in Israel, in particular measures imposed by Israel on Jenin Governorate such as widespread movement restrictions and punitive measures taken against family members of suspected attackers, raise concerns of possible collective punishment. International humanitarian and human rights law strictly prohibits penalties of any kind against people or entire groups of people for acts they have not personally committed.
We echo the call of the UN Secretary-General for calm and urge investigations where people have been killed or injured.