8 October 2015 -- Voicing extreme concern over escalating tensions and rapidly-spreading violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the United Nations human rights chief today called for urgent action by both Israelis and Palestinian to halt the violence, while stressing the need to ensure security forces comply with international standards and respect for human rights.
"The security situation has deteriorated dramatically over the past week in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem," Zeid Ra"ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a news release.
The violence is spreading rapidly across the entire West Bank in over 50 locations, with increasing attacks of stone throwing by both Israeli settlers and Palestinians as well as using fire arms by settlers.
More bloodshed, he warned, will only lead to more hatred on both sides, and offer no solution in the long run.
According to High Commissioner Zeid, growing frustration and despair of the prolonged occupation have led to escalating tensions, which caused high number of casualties resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces.
"The use of .22 calibre rifles against protestors is of particular concern," said Mr. Zeid, which has caused many Palestinian deaths in the past. "The use of any firearms by law enforcement should be the exception, and only where less extreme means are insufficient to put a stop to an imminent threat of death or serious injury," he stressed.
Further, collective punishments, such as punitive home demolitions, are being stepped up in East Jerusalem as part of the response of Israeli authorities to the situation.
Calling those operations both illegal and counterproductive, the UN rights chief underscored that "any response to the current situation must be strictly in accordance with norms and standards contained in international law."
While fully supporting the Secretary-General"s call for urgent action by both sides to stop any further escalation, the High Commissioner reiterated the imperative need to ensure that security forces comply with international standards on use of force.
Since 28 September, at least 134 Palestinians have reportedly been injured by live ammunition with over -- Palestinians arrested during clashes with Israeli security forces, and hundreds more have been injured by tear-gas inhalation and rubber bullets, according to the High Commissioner"s Office (OHCHR).
Recent weeks have witnessed increasing tensions both in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge Israelis and Palestinians to defuse tensions and prevent any escalation of the current situation on the ground.