GENEVA, Friday, February 3, 2023 (WAFA) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said today he was afraid recent measures being taken by the far-right Israeli government are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law.
“I fear that recent measures being taken by the Government of Israel are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law,” Turk said in a press statement.
He added, “Last year saw record numbers of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem... Already this year, we have seen more bloodshed, more destruction, and the situation continues to grow more volatile”.
In 2022, the UN Human Rights Office documented 151 killings of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank, plus one boy who was killed by either the Israeli security forces or a settler. Another two Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers.
So far this year, 32 Palestinians have already been killed in the occupied West Bank by Israeli occupation forces, with two more killed by settlers.
Turk continued, “Measures of collective punishment – including punitive forced evictions and house demolitions – are expressly prohibited under international humanitarian law and are incompatible with international human rights law provisions”.
He added that “plans by the Government of Israel to expedite and expand the licensing of firearms [for Israeli settlers]… can only lead to further violence and bloodshed.”
“We know from experience that the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must work to reduce the availability of firearms in society,” the High Commissioner added.
The High Commissioner called for urgent measures to de-escalate tensions, including – crucially – ensuring that killings and serious injuries are investigated in accordance with international standards.
“Impunity has been rife, sending a signal that excesses are allowed,” he said. “The obligation under international human rights law is to investigate loss of life in any context of law enforcement – credibly and effectively – regardless of whether there was an exchange of fire between security forces and armed individuals.”