The situation in the West Bank has become “alarming and urgent”, the United Nations said Friday, citing in particular an escalation of violence by Israeli settlers towards Palestinians.
From October 7 to Thursday, 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, had been killed in the West Bank while two Israeli soldiers also perished, the UN rights office said.
Much of the world’s attention has been focused on the Gaza Strip since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7.
But “the situation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is alarming and urgent, amid the increasing and multi-layered human rights violations of Palestinians occurring there”, spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell told reporters in Geneva.
She said Israeli forces were increasingly using military tactics and weapons in law enforcement operations, including an operation involving air strikes on the Jenin refugee camp.
“Settler violence, which was already at record levels, has also escalated dramatically, averaging seven attacks a day. In more than a third of these attacks, firearms were used,” Throssell said.
Sh said in many cases settlers were accompanied by Israeli soldiers.
“Along with the near total impunity for settler violence, we are concerned that armed settlers have been acting with the acquiescence and collaboration of Israeli forces and authorities.”
She said Israel, as the occupying power, had to ensure the safety and protection of the occupied population.
“Entire communities are being forced from their land by this violence,” Throssell said, adding that nearly 1,000 Palestinians from at least 15 herding communities had been forced from their homes since October 7.
Throssell said despite hundreds of settlers being involved in daily violence, since October 7 Israeli forces had reportedly arrested only two settlers for assaulting Palestinians and killing one Palestinian farmer.
Israeli forces have arrested almost 2,000 Palestinians, she added, noting that two have died in custody.
With many roads and checkpoints closed, some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities have been left without access to essential goods and services, said Throssell.