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17 Dec, 2015

No Festive Season in the Holy Land as unrelenting violence causes nearly one death a day

United Nations, (UN News Centre) 15 December 2015 – Although international attention has waned regarding the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory, the United Nations human rights office today warned that the region is still rife with violence and the recent escalation in the fighting has claimed 117 Palestinian lives, along with two foreign nationals and injured thousands more.

“We continue to be gravely concerned at the unrelenting violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel […] the level of killings, injuries and arrests has continued, with on average one person dying every day,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cécile Pouilly told reporters in Geneva during a regular press briefing.

A Palestine Red Crescent Society responder tends to the wounded during a Bethlehem skirmish. Clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank have left many injured by rubber bullets and tear gas. Photo: Oren Ziv/IRIN

The spokesperson said that the “unacceptable” wave of stabbings, shootings and car rammings continues to kill and injure Israelis and at the same time, the response from Israeli security forces has resulted in alleged attackers, protesters and even bystanders being killed and injured.She also voiced deep concern over reports of excessive use of force by Israeli forces and added that all instances of the use of force resulting in death or injury by law enforcement officers should be the subject of prompt, independent and impartial investigations.

Continuing, Ms. Pouilly noted that in the H2 area of Hebron alone, there have been 16 alleged attacks against Israelis since 1 October, and of the 17 Palestinians involved in such incidents, 16 have been shot dead, with one injured and arrested.

The spokesperson also warned that punitive demolitions of Palestinian houses and the withholding of bodies of alleged attackers from their families can only aggravate the situation.

Lastly, Ms. Pouilly called on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act decisively to de-escalate the situation.