The IDF should be careful not to target Palestinian children in the planned march at the border fence in Gaza, UN special coordinator to the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said on Monday.“I note the developing Palestinian plans for a march on the Gaza fence on the 30th of March,” he said as he spoke before the UN Security Council in New York. “I call on all sides to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid a violent escalation. It is imperative that civilians, in particular children, not be targeted and that all actors refrain from putting children at risk at any time,” Mladneov said.“The use of force by Israel must also be calibrated. Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights law and humanitarian law. Lethal force should only be used as a last resort, with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities. I once again urge the security forces to exercise maximum restraint to avoid casualties,” he said.Mladenov spoke as part of the quarterly report he delivered to the UNSC on the implementation of Resolution 2334 during the period of December 18 to March 25.During that time, he said, “23 Palestinians, including six children, were killed by Israeli security forces (ISF) in various incidents, including reported attacks against Israelis, demonstrations, clashes or military operations in the occupied Palestinian territory.”“Five Israelis – three civilians and two soldiers – were killed by Palestinians in separate attacks in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem,” Mladenov said.His report did not focus entirely on Israeli actions toward Palestinians. Mladenov held Fatah responsible for attacks on their social media pages and condemned the use of inciting language by both Israelis and Palestinians.
He spoke of the importance of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and urged both parties to move forward with that process.“The terrorist attack against the convoy of [Palestinian Authority] Prime Minister [Rami] Hamdallah on 13 March in Gaza was a serious attempt to derail the Cairo process and its perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Mladenov said.“In this respect, I call on Palestinian factions to engage earnestly with Egypt and move forward on the implementation of the Cairo agreement. This includes the paying of salaries for civil servants and the full empowerment of the government in Gaza,” he said. Mladenov also called for the return of the PA to Gaza.“Violence and incitement continue to fuel hatred, division, distrust and fear. Continuing terror attacks on Israelis and the attempt on the life of the Palestinian Prime Minister illustrate the growing risk of destabilization and the empowerment of radicals and extremists,” Mladenov said.In regards to Area C, Mladenov said that Israel had ignored Resolution 2334, which called for an immediate halt to settlement activity.“Israel advanced 22 plans for some 1,500 housing units in Area C settlements. Around a dozen units were approved for construction – significantly lower than the 1,200 units approved during the previous three-month period,” Mladenov said.“Ten tenders for some 900 housing units in seven Area C settlements were also announced. Official figures released last week show that construction starts in Area C settlements declined in 2017 to nearly half the number in 2016, which in itself was the highest in over a decade,” he said.
Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation accord, October 12 2017.
Mladenov mentioned that Israel also approved the creation of a new settlement noting that it followed the approval of the Amichai settlement last year.It’s a move, he said, that he found “particularly troubling.”“Israel’s illegal settlement expansion and related activities continue further threatening the viability of the two-state solution and eroding the prospects for peace,” Mladenov added.He denounced the Israeli razing of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, but noted that there had been a drop in such demolitions.“Ninety-two structures, including 15 that were donor-funded, were demolished, including for a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. Consequently, 104 Palestinians were displaced, including 42 children, affecting the livelihoods of over 360 people,” Mladenov said.“Palestinian development remains extremely restricted. In Area C alone, there are nearly 13,000 outstanding demolition orders against Palestinian-owned structures, of which some 500 are ready for execution,” Mladenov said. “Less than one percent of Area C, comprising over 60 percent of the West Bank and critical for the contiguity of a future Palestinian state, is available for Palestinian construction under approved plans,” Mladenov said.
Settlers unveil new settlement Amichai for Amona evacuees, March 26, 2018 (Hillel Meir-TPS)