UN 'alarmed' at West Bank violence day after Israeli raid
The UN Middle East peace envoy urged Israel and the Palestinians on Wednesday to calm surging violence in the occupied West Bank, a day after the latest Israeli raid killed six people. "We are in the midst of a cycle of violence that must be stopped immediately," Tor Wennesland said in a statement.
"The Security Council has spoken with one voice, calling on the parties to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric."
The call came a day after intense fighting during an Israeli raid in the flashpoint northern West Bank city of Jenin, in which the soldiers killed six Palestinians, including a member of Hamas accused of killing two Israeli settlers last month.
Wennesland said he was "alarmed" at the violence, which the army said included soldiers launching shoulder-fired rockets amid ferocious gunfire.
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, called the use of rockets in Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday an act of "all-out war", Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
The Jenin raid was the latest in a string of deadly military operations in the Palestinian territory, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967.
Among the six killed was Abdel Fatah Hussein Khroushah, 49. The Israeli army said he was a "terrorist operative" suspected of killing two Israeli settlers in the Palestinian town of Huwara on February 26.
The killing of the two settlers, which came just hours after Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged in Jordan to "prevent further violence", sparked fury among Israeli settlers, with hundreds later torching Palestinian homes and cars in the West Bank town.
"I am deeply disturbed by the continuing violence," Wennesland said, condemning both Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and Palestinian attacks against Israelis. "Israel, as the occupying power, must ensure that the civilian population is protected and perpetrators are held to account," he said.
Overnight, a rocket was fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip but fell short and exploded inside the coastal enclave, the Israeli military said.
Commitments made by the two sides in Jordan last month, when they agreed to "commit to de-escalation", must be implemented if "we are to find a way forward", Wennesland said. "The parties must refrain from further steps that would lead us to more violence," he added. (AFP)