UN fears 'catastrophe' amid Palestinian unrest| MENAFN.COM

Thursday, 20 January 2022 11:14 GMT

UN fears 'catastrophe' amid Palestinian unrest


(MENAFN- Gulf Times) The United Nations warned yesterday that a deadly surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians was headed toward "catastrophe" as new knife attacks took place in the volatile West Bank.
An Israeli woman was stabbed and moderately wounded in one such attack, while a Palestinian allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was shot dead in another, the police and army said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the latest flare-up in violence in the six-decade-old conflict was "dangerous in the extreme".
"The violence between Palestinians and the Israelis will draw us ever closer to a catastrophe if not stopped immediately," he said during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
World leaders desperately want to revive moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that last collapsed in April 2014, to avoid a deeper slide into violence that many fear could lead to a third Palestinian Intifada.
But Abbas said yesterday that "it is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations" and warned that a continuation of the current violence could "kill the last shred of hope for the two-state-solution-based peace".
He called on the United Nations "to set up a special regime for international protection for the Palestinian people."
Abbas accused Israel of "extrajudicial killings of defenceless Palestinian civilians, (and having) detained their corpses, including children".
Withholding the bodies of attackers is one of a series of measures approved by the Israeli government to try to dissuade the attacks against Jews, which began in early October as tensions over the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem boiled over.
Palestinians have long feared Israelis are planning to change the rules governing the site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, and lies in a majority Palestinian area annexed by Israel in 1967.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly denied seeking to allow Jews to pray at the compound, which they refer to as the Temple Mount.
Only Muslims are allowed to pray within the compound, while non-Muslims can visit but not pray there.
Hundreds of angry Palestinians demonstrated on Tuesday night in Hebron to demand the return of "the bodies of martyrs"-youths behind the wave of unrest that has seen nine Israelis killed in knife attacks and shootings.
The West Bank city of Hebron has been a hotbed of the recent unrest, with near-daily clashes with Israeli police where protesters are often left with bullet wounds or dead.
Many of the youths behind the attacks are also from the city.
Palestinian organisations say the bodies of 25 attackers and an Israeli Arab have not been returned to families.
They are among 61 killed since October 1. Palestinian medics say some 2,000 Palestinians have been injured since the outbreak of violence.
"The terrorist's family makes his funeral a show of support for terrorism and incitation to murder and we cannot allow it," Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in mid-October when the measure was announced.
He said the bodies would be buried in cemeteries reserved for attackers, "as has been done in the past".
The move infuriates Muslims who have strict religious rules on how burials should take place.
The Israelis "want to put pressure on us... they know that it is more than a red line for us: they execute them and then they try to crush our dignity," said Jihad Irshaid, the father of 17-year-old Dania who was shot dead on Sunday while allegedly trying to stab soldiers.
Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Israel of a series of "unlawful killings of Palestinians using intentional lethal force without justification" in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
After an intense diplomatic drive to defuse the tensions, Israel and Jordan-the custodian of the holy site-agreed on Saturday to allow surveillance cameras at Al Aqsa, but this has run into trouble as the two locked horns over the installation.
Further straining the situation, an Israeli Arab lawmaker yesterday visited the mosque compound, defying a ban by Netanyahu on visits by lawmakers and government ministers, to avoid provoking Muslim anger.
"Israel does not control who is banned from entering the mosque, and continues to change the status quo," Basel Ghattas, a Christian member of the Israeli parliament for the Arab Joint List coalition, wrote on his Facebook account.
Netanyahu condemned the "provocative" move, saying he would "not let any Knesset member or minister ignite the Temple Mount".
On Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said it was her "dream to see the Israeli flag flying" over the holy site, prompting Netanyahu to order government ministers to follow the party line.


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