The UN said Friday that it was “deeply concerned” over the IDF’s ongoing security operation in the West Bank aimed at locating three Israeli teenagers kidnapped while hitchhiking in the Gush Etzion area last week.
The campaign has resulted in the deaths of three Palestinians and the injury of many more, the international body’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said Friday.
Robert Serry said that while the UN acknowledged that tightened restrictions on movement throughout the West Bank were necessary as part of efforts to bring the youths home safely, it urged Israel to show restraint and carry out the operation in compliance with international law. The UN special coordinator further called on the Israeli government to respect the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians.
“The Special Coordinator is concerned that without restraint from all sides in these dramatic circumstances, it will become even more difficult to address an already critical security situation on the ground,” a press statement issued by Serry read.
“[Israel] should thus seek to minimize the impact of security operations on individuals who have committed no offense and investigate allegations of excessive use of force, including the killing of civilians.”
The UN official emphasized that the international body continues to call for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers.
Israeli forces have embarked on a massive campaign to locate the three kidnapped teens — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 — while simultaneously destroying parts of the Hamas terror infrastructure in the West Bank.
Over the past week, thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested close to 300 Palestinians, many of them from Hamas.
On Friday, IDF troops opened fire at Palestinian stone throwers near the West Bank town of Dura near Hebron. A 14-year-old Palestinian youth was killed and three others were seriously wounded in the exchange, Palestinian officials said.
The army also opened fire during a raid in the Qalandiya refugee camp, where three Palestinians were seriously wounded, said an official at a hospital in the nearby city of Ramallah. One of them, aged 22, later died.
The army confirmed soldiers’ used life fire, saying troops were responding to life-threatening situations.
The IDF said soldiers were engaged in sporadic confrontations during Friday’s raids, adding that Palestinians threw home-made explosives, firebombs, fireworks and stones in some of the encounters.
In Qalandiya earlier Friday, a soldier was lightly hurt by a grenade thrown at troops, the army said.