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UN wants to stop bloody escalation between Israel and Palestinian armed groups




Hundreds of injuries have been reported in the occupied territories (photo: Palestinian Red Crescent)
Hundreds of injuries have been reported in the occupied territories (photo: Palestinian Red Crescent)
ISRAEL / PALESTINE. Israeli fighter jets and helicopter gunships continue to strike Gaza and rockets and mortars from Palestinian armed groups in the occupied territories continue to rain down on Israel on the morning of Wednesday 12 May 2021. Several Israeli cities have been hit, including Tel Aviv and Beer-Sheva (south of the country). According to Hamas, 220 missiles were launched during the night of Tuesday 11 to Wednesday 12 and the Islamic Jihad announced the sending of 100 rockets Wednesday 12. In all, according to the Israeli army, more than 1,000 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have reached Israel. This is the most important clash between these belligerents since the 2014 conflict.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC), 915 Palestinians were injured between 7 and 10 May 2021 in East Jerusalem and over 200 in the West Bank. And about 20 Israelis, mostly from the Israeli security forces. The Ministry of Health in Gaza reports "at least thirty-five dead, including twelve children, and at least 230 injured". The Israeli police and rescue services counted five dead and dozens injured in Israel.

Possible war crimes

Faced with the deteriorating situation, the UN is once again banging the table. The Security Council plans to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday 12 May 2021, for the second time in three days. The evening before, Guterres sounded the alarm, saying he was "gravely concerned about the dangerous escalations. The UN Secretary General spoke of "escalating tensions and violence in occupied East Jerusalem."

His message was relayed from Geneva by Ruper Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressing "deep concern" and calling for "redoubled efforts to calm the situation and avoid further violence." For Ruper Colville, "the use of indiscriminate weapons, such as rockets fired into Israel, is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law and must stop immediately." He lamented, "When the use of force is necessary, it must be in full compliance with international human rights standards. This includes the prohibition of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force. This has not been the case in recent days". On Wednesday 12 May 2021, Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) referred to "the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute." In other words, war crimes.

"Israel must also refrain from taking punitive measures, such as additional closures and restrictions, that punish the entire civilian population of Gaza," the OHCHR spokesperson said.

Eviction of Palestinian families sparks escalation

The United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued a statement on the evening of Monday, 10 May 2021, stating that "there is no justification for the killing of innocent people. All indiscriminate attacks on civilians must stop". On the same day, Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, called for an "immediate ceasefire" saying that "we are heading for a full-scale war." He said that "a war in Gaza would be devastating and ordinary people would pay the price."

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu added fuel to the fire by predicting that Hamas, "will take a beating it does not expect." Speaking on Palestinian television, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was equally clear: "If Israel wants an escalation, the resistance is ready. If Israel wants to stop, we are ready too." He does, however, make one demand: the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the Esplanade of the Mosques.

The spark that led to the outbreak of violence began in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood near the city in East Jerusalem on the sidelines of a demonstration in support of Palestinian families threatened with eviction in favour of Jewish settlers. Clashes continued on the Esplanade of the Mosques between Palestinians and Israeli police.
"The Absentee Property Law (1950) and the Law of Legal and Administrative Matters (1970) are applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, solely on the basis of the owner's nationality or origin," noted Tuper Colville.

On Tuesday 11 May 2021, the UN reiterated its calls for the "cessation of all illegal Israeli policies and practices, including all settlement activities, house demolitions, evictions and any other acts of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population."

 

Eric Apim


Wednesday, May 12th 2021



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