RAMALLAH: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged an end to the “illogical escalation” between Israel and Palestine.
Volker Turk warned that recent measures taken by Israel would “lead to more violence and bloodshed.”
In a statement distributed in Geneva, Turk said: “I am afraid that the recent measures taken by the government of Israel only serve to fuel more violations and abuses, especially the decision to facilitate obtaining permits to carry weapons.”
He warned that the matter “accompanied by hateful rhetoric, will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.”
Israel denounced Turk’s statement, accusing him, in a statement issued by its ambassador to the UN in Geneva, of bias and of “only condemning the state of Israel.”
The high commissioner added: “Instead of doubling down on the failed methods of violence and coercion that have single-handedly failed in the past, I urge all concerned to break out of the illogical logic of escalation that only ended with dead bodies, loss of life and sheer despair.
“Collective punishment measures, including forced evictions and house demolitions, are expressly prohibited under international humanitarian law and are incompatible with provisions of international human rights law.”
The high commissioner called for urgent measures to de-escalate tensions, including ensuring that international standards were maintained in investigating deaths and serious injuries.
Turk said: “Impunity has spread, which signals that abuses are permissible.”
His warning came as Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, criticized the bias of the US in failing to pressure the Israeli government into ending attacks on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
He made the remarks to Arab News after Palestinian medical sources said that at least 13 Palestinians were injured during clashes with the Israeli military in the West Bank on Saturday.
Israeli troops stormed the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp south of Jericho on Saturday morning.
The action led to clashes, resulting in the injury of three citizens by live rounds and other rubber-coated metal bullets.
Israeli forces had demolished part of the walls of a besieged house in the camp and used loudspeakers to request the surrender of those inside.
Palestinian medical sources said that three of the injured in the camp clashes were transferred to Ramallah hospitals in critical condition.
According to media sources and residents in the camp, three family members were arrested, including a father and son. The Israeli army also demolished a house in the camp.
Israeli sources said that troops ended the military activity in Aqabat Jabr camp and left four hours after the raid began. A search for two people who allegedly carried out an armed attack at Almog junction a week earlier did not result in arrests.
Israeli armed forces claimed that troops had raided Aqabat Jabr refugee camp and questioned several people suspected of involvement in the attack.
An army statement said that clashes took place with Palestinian gunmen during the military operation, and that there were no casualties on the Israeli side.
It added that 18 people were interrogated in the field, and six were transferred to Shin Bet for investigation.
Al-Barghouti told Arab News that the violent storming of the camp reflected the “extremist mentality” of the Israeli government, which has imposed a policy of collective punishment on Palestinians.
He described the military action — which resulted in the wounding of 13 Palestinians — as unjustified.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that the Israeli military impeded the entry of medical and health personnel into Jericho.
Israeli armed forces have limited the exit of Palestinians in Jericho city’s eastern side during the last seven days.
It deployed tightened checkpoints at all main road entrances into the area.
Israeli authorities closed all secondary entries with earthen mounds, searching for two gunmen who opened fire toward on a restaurant at Almog on Jan. 28. No injuries were reported from the incident. Several Palestinians were arrested and later released after questioning.
Authorities adopted a “collective punishment policy” on the city by obstructing movement, searching cars and checking identities, sources said.
Citizens waited in vehicles for several hours in front of checkpoints at all entrances to the city.
The army’s actions disrupted daily life for the city’s 30,000 residents.
Dozens of citizens and workers endured waits of up to four hours at Israeli military checkpoints, while others were prevented from leaving the city entirely.
Jericho houses a terminal that serves as the only exit point for 3 million Palestinians to travel from the West Bank to countries around the world.
The closure of the city over the past week has significantly impeded the movement of citizens traveling and returning from abroad.
A doctor in the emergency department of a major Palestinian hospital in Ramallah told Arab News that the Israeli army was “deliberately shooting at the upper limbs” of targets, increasing the chances of fatal injury and death.
An ambulance officer from Jericho told Arab News that the three people left in critical condition from the camp raid were moved to Ramallah hospitals due to a lack of medical equipment in nearby hospitals.
They were transported more than 40 km, passing through several Israeli military checkpoints.
Palestinian factions have condemned the storming of Aqabat Jabr as a crime, calling for a confrontation with Israel.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said: “The occupation’s aggression against the Palestinian camps in the occupied West Bank, in addition to the escalation of daily arrest campaigns, will not weaken the continuous resistance until the occupation is defeated and our national goals are achieved.
“The escalation of resistance operations in all forms and various means categorically confirms that a new phase is taking shape in the West Bank and will pursue settlers and turn their colonies into prisons for settlers.”
Tariq Ezz El-Din, media spokesman for the Islamic Jihad Movement, said that the “ very dangerous” Israeli escalation needed to be met by “resistance activities.”
The Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies warned that Israeli authorities had stepped up arrest campaigns against Palestinians since the beginning of the year.
The center recorded 540 arrest cases, including 92 children and 10 women, in January.
It also referred to the Israeli army’s escalation of raids on towns and cities in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The center said that Jerusalem saw the largest share of arrests, with 270.