UN urges end to 'illogic of escalation' in Palestine-Israel
UN rights chief Volker Türk on Friday called for an end to the "illogic of escalation" in Palestine-Israel, after a start to 2023 that has seen dozens of people, overwhelmingly Palestinians, killed.
Türk criticised Israel for measures that "can only lead to further violence and bloodshed", following an escalation that has drawn calls from the international community for calm and restraint.
Since the start of this year, 36 Palestinians have been killed, largely by Israeli forces, while six Israeli settlers and one Ukrainian have also lost their lives.
"Rather than doubling down on failed approaches of violence and coercion… I urge everyone involved to step out of the illogic of escalation that has only ended in dead bodies, shattered lives and utter despair," Türk said in a statement.
"Recent measures being taken by the Government of Israel are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law," he continued.
"We know from experience that the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians."
The UN rights chief was referring to measures to ease access to firearms announced by Israel's government last week following a shooting by a Palestinian in an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem that killed six Israelis and one Ukrainian.
The following day, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and injured two Israelis the in Silwan neighbourhood just outside the walled Old City in East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally annexed.
The Jerusalem attacks followed the deadliest Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank in almost 20 years that on 26 January left 10 Palestinians dead in Jenin.
In his statement, Türk urged "all those holding public office or other positions of authority – indeed everyone – to stop using language that incites hatred of 'the other'."
He added that other measures announced by Israel in response to the Jerusalem attack, including "punitive forced evictions and house demolitions" may amount to "collective punishment".
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region last week, urging deescalation following the deadly upsurge in violence.
The latest uptick follows the deadliest year since 2004, with nearly 150 Palestinians killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022.