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UN coordinator concerned by surge in West Bank tension

Palestinian families, living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Eastern Jerusalem and threatened by Israel's forced migration, gather for a demonstration in Jerusalem, on 23 April 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian families, living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Eastern Jerusalem and threatened by Israel's forced migration, gather for a demonstration in Jerusalem, on 23 April 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, is "deeply concerned" by the tension in the occupied West Bank and Israeli attempts to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, the international organisation said on Thursday.

"I am deeply concerned by the surge in tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan," said Wennesland. "In the past few days alone, two Palestinians, including a woman and a child, were killed in separate incidents, by Israeli security forces (ISF) in the context of clashes or attacks." He added that an Israeli was killed by a Palestinian in a drive-by shooting and several others were injured.

"I reiterate that ISF must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Perpetrators of violence on all sides must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice."

Wennesland linked the ongoing tension and the Israeli attempt to expel Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

"The latest developments related to the eviction of Palestine refugee families in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem are also very worrying," he said. "I urge Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law."

Concluding his statement, he called on "political, religious and community leaders on all sides to stand firmly against violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric. If unaddressed, the situation could spiral out of control."

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