Israel urged the UN on Saturday to take a tougher stance on Palestinian terrorism, saying its “balanced response” to a West Bank attack which killed an Israeli man a day earlier was insufficient.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued a statement Fridayo condemning the attack, in which a second man was moderately injured, and calling for calm.
“I condemn today’s deadly shooting attack on an Israeli civilian vehicle traveling in the occupied West Bank,” Mladenov said. “On this second day of Ramadan and at the start of the Shabbat, I call on all sides to exercise the utmost restraint, to maintain calm and promptly bring the perpetrators to justice,” Mladenov said.
But Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said the UN response was inadequate.
“The UN as always issues a ‘balanced response’ and calls on both sides to show restraint,” he said. “The UN must cease this objectionable practice, as only one of the sides bears responsibility for the cruel murder.”
Prosor called the attack the most recent event in “a series of violent actions by Palestinians in the West Bank.
“Instead of advancing peace, Palestinian leadership is encouraging incitement and destabilizing the region,” he said. “The international community must demand that the Palestinians stop the violence and avoid inflaming the situation.”
Israeli leaders have in recent days heavily condemned the UN and its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for singling out Israel in a Security Council debate on children harmed in armed conflict. While Ban on Thursday mentioned war zones such as Iraq, Syria and South Sudan in his UNSC comments, Israel was the only country he called on to take action to protect children in war zones.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ban’s statements were hypocritical and represented “a black day for the UN,” and the organization’s chief was censured by Israeli lawmakers from both left and the right.
A Palestinian group claiming affiliation with Hamas took responsibility for the attack Friday. A cell calling itself the “Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha Squad,” named for the two terrorists who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers last summer, claimed responsibility for the attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.
The two victims were traveling in their car after visiting a spring near Dolev, when they were flagged down by a Palestinian man, seemingly asking them for assistance. He then pulled a gun out of a bag he was carrying and opened fire on them at point-blank range, mortally wounding Gonen.
The group said it carried out its “operation” as part of a series of attacks in advance of the one year anniversary of the deaths of Kawasme and Abu Aysha, who were killed in a shootout with the IDF last September after a months-long manhunt.
It said it was affiliated with the armed wing of Hamas. The same group claimed responsibility for throwing an explosive device at IDF soldiers in the village of Silwad near Ramallah three weeks ago, Ynet reported.
It’s ties to Hamas were unconfirmed, but the group nevertheless hailed the killing. Spokesperson Hussam Badran in Gaza said the Islamist group “look[s] with respect and appreciation for the pure hands that uphold the resistance and aim its bullets at the occupier despite all the difficulties and challenges in the West Bank.”
Gonen, 25, from the central city of Lod, died after succumbing to his injuries later in the day. He was an electrical engineering student and the eldest of five siblings.
A second man, whose identity was not immediately made public, was moderately hurt in the attack and was being treated at Tel Hashomer Hospital.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the incident proved that Israelis are under constant threat.
“We mustn’t let the relative calm mislead us. Efforts to hurt us (Israelis) are underway at all times, and we will continue to fight them using all the means available to us,” he said.
President Reuven Rivlin condemned the attack, which he said was “another step in the quiet and serious escalation in acts of terrorism we have witnessed in recent months,” and called on Palestinian and Arab-Israeli leaders to do the same.
“We will not accept a situation in which a young hiker has his life taken from him in the land of Israel because he is Jewish. Security forces will work tirelessly to bring to justice those responsible for this cruel and brutal act. There should be heard clear and decisive condemnation of such criminal acts from both the Arab leadership, which bears responsibility for actions of terrorism emanating from its territory, as well as from the leaders of the Arab community in Israel,” Rivlin wrote on Facebook.
AFP and AP contributed to this report.