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UN condemns Israel for making 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians

Palestinians gather in the Beit Dajan village of Nablus, to stage a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the region, in West Bank on December 16, 2022. ( Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians gather in the Beit Dajan village of Nablus, to stage a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the region, in West Bank on December 16, 2022. ( Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency]

United Nation experts yesterday condemned the increasing settler attacks and excessive use of force imposed by the Israeli forces against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

​​This year alone over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank, including 33 children, which has resulted in 2022 being the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2005, according to the UN.

"We remind Israel that pending the dismantlement of its unlawful occupation, Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory must be treated as protected persons, not enemies or terrorists," the experts said in a statement.

They demanded Israel ensure the protection, security and welfare of the Palestinian people living under its occupation, in accordance with its obligations under international law.

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"Armed and masked Israeli settlers are attacking Palestinians in their homes, attacking children on their way to school, destroying property and burning olive groves, and terrorising entire communities with complete impunity," added the experts.

The statement noted that 2022 is the sixth year of consecutive annual increase in the number of Israeli settler attacks in the occupied West Bank.

The warning comes after a 16-year-old girl child was killed by an Israeli sniper this week in Jenin, north of the West Bank.

Jana Zakarnah was found dead on the roof of her home after an Israeli sniper targeted her and fatally shot her in the head after Israeli soldiers from a special unit stormed the neighbourhood.

"Disturbing evidence of Israeli forces frequently facilitating, supporting and participating in settler attacks makes it difficult to discern between Israeli settler and State violence," said the experts. "The impunity of one is reinforced by the impunity of the other."

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"International human rights law only permits the use of firearms by State security forces against individuals posing an imminent threat to life or serious injury. Use of lethal force as a first rather than a last resort by Israeli forces, against Palestinians who do not present an imminent threat to life or of serious injury, may amount to extrajudicial execution – a violation of the right to life – and willful killing prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute," the statement added.

There has been a rise in Israeli raids on the West Bank over the past few months, coupled with violence carried out by settlers who have even turned against Israeli forces, at times.

The UN experts concluded their statement by calling on Israeli forces to "reconcile their rules of engagement with international law and address impunity within their ranks by investigating all deaths at the hands of Israeli forces and settlers."

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