UN 'deeply concerned' at escalation in East Jerusalem

Children must be protected from violence, journalists should be allowed to work freely, safely, says spokesman.

UN 'deeply concerned' at escalation in East Jerusalem

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday that it is "deeply concerned" about the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, calling on security forces to respect the rights of journalists to report freely.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office, said that according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 915 Palestinians have been injured on May 7-10 in East Jerusalem.

More than 200 were injured in the West Bank, "mostly by Israeli security forces," said Colville, condemning "all violence and all incitement to violence and ethnic division and provocations."

The UN Rights Office official said that one Palestinian with Israeli citizenship was reportedly among those killed in Israel, while approximately 20 Israelis, most being members of security forces, have reportedly been injured as of May 10.

'Ensure freedom of expression'

Amid continued protests by Palestinians in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah despite attacks by Israeli police, Colville said security forces had been using "unnecessary" and "disproportionate" force in the past days.

"When the use of force is necessary, it should comply fully with international human rights standards," said Coville, urging Israeli security forces to "allow and ensure the exercise of freedom of expression."

The crisis stems from a ruling by the Israeli Central Court in East Jerusalem, which approved a decision to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Israeli settlers at the beginning of this year.

"We're particularly concerned about the impact on children and reiterate the call by UNICEF for children to be protected from violence and kept out of harm's way at all times and detained children should be released."

Colville said Palestinian armed groups have launched some 250 rockets towards Israel in the past 24 hours.

"The use of indiscriminate weapons such as the rockets being fired into Israel is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law and must stop immediately," Colville stressed.

Airstrikes in Gaza

The UN Rights Office said the Israeli military had carried out airstrikes into Gaza.

"Any attack including airstrikes should be directed solely at military objectives, and all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid civilian deaths and injury and damage to civilian objects," said Colville.

The rights office spokesman said the UN had verified that at least nine journalists were injured by Israeli security forces while covering the clashes at the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and other areas of Jerusalem in the past three days.

Anadolu Agency's Middle East News Editor Turgut Alp Boyraz was one of them. He was shot in the leg with two rubber bullets on Monday in an Israeli police raid on the mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

He was the fourth Anadolu Agency journalist attacked by Israeli police.

Colville also noted that arrests of journalists had also been reported, along with "other forms of obstruction of their work by the Israeli security forces."

"Israeli forces must ensure respect for freedom of expression, including the right to provide and receive information regarding protests and clashes in Jerusalem."

The rights office also called on Israeli forces to ensure that journalists be allowed to conduct their activities safely and freely.


Hüseyin Demir