The UN’s human rights czar on Monday issued a scathing condemnation of Israeli actions in the West Bank, accusing settlement activity of violating “the entire spectrum of Palestinians’ social, cultural, civil and political rights.”
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay made the statements at a meeting of the Human Rights Council to debate Palestinian rights.
“Despite repeated calls for Israel to cease settlement activity, ongoing settlement construction and acts of settler violence continue with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians,” Pillay said, adding that those issues are “at the core of many of the violations of human rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”
Pillay condemned Hamas rocket fire on Israeli civilians in the south, but also qualified that Israel’s response through air strikes… is excessive” and that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted, albeit “with due regard to Israeli security concerns.”
Just two weeks ago, Israel and terrorists in the Gaza strip engaged in their most heated exchange since Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. While there were no civilian deaths, scores of rockets were fired on Israeli towns in the southern region of the country, and the IDF retaliated with intense airstrikes.
Pillay also criticized “a dramatic increase in fatalities and injuries in incidents of use of force by Israeli security forces” recorded by UN monitors in the previous year and called for independent investigations of such incidents to ensure accountability and justice.
A recent uptick in violence in the West Bank has resulted in the deaths of a number of Palestinians over the past several weeks.
At the weekend, an IDF raid in Jenin, to arrest a wanted Hamas man alleged to be planning a terror attack, resulted in his death and that of two others.
Last Wednesday, IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian teen who was attempting to break through the security fence. The IDF said that it fired only after the suspect ignored numerous warnings, but Palestinian media sources said that the soldiers fired without warning.
Two weeks ago, a Jordanian judge of Palestinian descent died in a controversial altercation with IDF soldiers at the Allenby border crossing between Israel and Jordan. The Israeli army said the soldiers were forced to kill the man after he attacked one of them and tried to steal his weapon, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that the man had simply pushed the soldier and was killed without cause or warning.