UN chief ‘concerned’ about West Bank violence, arrests

Ban Ki-moon calls on Netanyahu to prevent escalation; says he will continue to speak out against terror

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: AP/Osama Faisal)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: AP/Osama Faisal)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday he was concerned about the wave of violence and mass arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank in past days, as part of the IDF offensive to locate the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers.

Ban also stressed that “had consistently and unambiguously spoken out on terrorism, and would continue to do so,” according to a UN statement.

The UN chief “expressed concern over the increased violence, mass arrests, and restrictions on movement in the West Bank. He further said that it was imperative, for both political and security reasons, not to give in to provocations in a way that seems likely to escalate tensions still further,” the statement said.

Four Palestinians have been killed in clashes with the IDF since the June 12 kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, including two on Sunday, after Ban spoke to Netanyahu.

Early Sunday morning, one man was killed in Nablus after he approached Israeli border police forces operating in the city and was shot.  According to Palestinian sources the man, Ahmed Fahnawi, 27, was shot four times and died later from his wounds. He was on his way to a mosque for morning prayers as clashes were taking place, security officials told AFP. Family members said he was mentally unsound.

A second man, 30-year-old Mohammed Tarifi, was shot during clashes with security forces at the entrance to Ramallah and later died en route to the hospital. Five other Palestinians were wounded in the clashes.

Ban also extended sympathy and “deep solidarity” to the missing youths’ families.

In the telephone conversation with the UN head, Netanyahu said that “information in Israel’s hands unequivocally indicates that Hamas is responsible for the abduction of the youths, adding that this needs to be expressed in actions on the ground,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

On Tuesday, deputy spokesman for Ban Ki-moon Farhan Haq said the UN had “no confirmation that we can independently make about an abduction,” in response to a question about how the UN had established that there had been a kidnapping.

The prime minister also told the UN chief that Israel was “oppose[d] to the transfer of funds from Qatar to Hamas” — a reference to a report Saturday that the UN’s Mideast coordinator in Jerusalem sought to transfer funds to the terror group, an action for which Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was seeking his expulsion.

Coordinator Robert Serry denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he was approached by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah about transferring funds from Qatar to pay Gaza salaries, but that he had made it clear he would only act if Israel was also amenable to the arrangement.

A Foreign Ministry meeting over the issue Sunday ended without a decision on whether to expel Serry.

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