UN: Israel seems quick to use force in West Bank

Human rights body says IDF seems "very quick to resort to excessive force when it comes to the Palestinians and not to restrain the settlers," calls on Israel to protect, compensate civilians.

By REUTERS
October 11, 2011 17:48
2 minute read.
[illustrative photo]

Clashes settlers Palestinians IDF soldiers 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters/Nayef Hashlamoun)

 
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GENEVA - Israeli security forces escorting settlers into West Bank villages appear to have used excessive force against Palestinians, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday.

The global body called on Israel to protect Palestinians and investigate a surge of attacks by settlers against civilians in the West Bank, particularly in the village of Qusra, near Nablus.

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The village had been "targeted by settlers" at least six times in six weeks, said Rupert Colville, spokesman for United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

"We do have particular concerns about the way the IDF operates in circumstances, particularly in those surrounding this particular village ... They seem to be very quick to resort to excessive force when it comes to the Palestinians and not to restrain the settlers," Colville said.

The IDF shot dead a Palestinian civilian in Qusra on Sept. 23 during clashes between Palestinians and settlers in which six Palestinians were also injured, he told a news briefing.

On the same day as the shooting, two Palestinian minors were detained for two hours and were allegedly beaten and humiliated by IDF soldiers before being released, he said.

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On Oct. 6, Palestinians from Qusra discovered at least 200 trees belonging to four families had been cut down, depriving them of their main source of income, he added.

"The accountability for settler violence against Palestinians is less than adequate let's say and certainly not comparable to the reverse cases. When Palestinians attack settlers there's always very, very strong reaction," Colville said.

Police on Sunday said they arrested a second suspect following an arson attack on a mosque blamed on a pro-settler militant group known by its slogan "price tag".

Israel named a special task force to investigate last week's blaze in the Israeli Arab village of Tuba-Zangariya, amid fears it may exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.

The "Price-Taggers," also blamed for other assaults on mosques, have said they want to avenge the killing of settlers, and protest against Israeli efforts to remove unauthorized settlement outposts built on land Palestinians want for a state.

The violence has coincided with rising tensions over a Palestinian application for statehood on West Bank land Israel captured in a 1967 war, filed at the UN Security Council last month, despite objections by Israel and the United States.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due to issue a report in coming days on Israeli settlements, which addresses the lack of accountability for settler violence, said Colville.

"We call on the Government of Israel to fulfill its obligation under international human rights and international humanitarian law to protect Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory," he said.

"More needs to be done to effectively prevent attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and, when they do occur, they should be properly investigated by the Israeli authorities," he said. Victims should be compensated, he added.

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