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Conflict in occupied Palestinian territories reaching boiling point: UN special envoy

Israeli forces hold back a Palestinian man as Jewish settlers march in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on November 19, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East has raised the alarm about escalating violence against Palestinians by the Israeli regime’s forces in the occupied territories, warning that tensions are "again reaching a boiling point" between the two sides.

Tor Wennesland made the remark in a statement on Monday as he addressed the UN Security Council on the ongoing situation in the West Asia region, including the dangerous escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“After decades of persistent violence, illegal settlement expansion, dormant negotiation and deepening occupation, the conflict is again reaching a boiling point,” Wennesland said, adding that the high levels of violence, which include "attacks against … Palestinian civilians, increased use of arms, and settler-related violence," have "caused grave human suffering." 

Warning that current trends could worsen the tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories and destabilize the whole region, Wennesland called on the two sides to stop violence and, together with the international community, take urgent steps towards achieving the so-called two-state solution.

“The international community must continue to engage with the parties to reduce tensions and counter negative trends. Violence and incitement must be reined in and perpetrators held to account. That also means stopping unilateral steps that undermine peace, including settlement expansion and demolitions, and upholding the status quo at the holy sites,” the UN official said.

“Through incremental but tangible steps, we can build a bridge between where we are now and the conditions necessary for a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements,” he added.

Calling on the international community to continue to improve access, movement and trade to create room for the Palestinian economy to grow, Wennesland said steps should be taken to increase access for Palestinians to land and resources in the entire occupied West Bank, and ease restrictions on the movement of people and goods in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Monday, some 200 Palestinian and international organizations urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli crimes and for public condemnation, amid an increase in Israeli regime's killings and continuous aggression against Palestinians.

The organizations stressed the need to speed up the investigations, which should include crimes against humanity such as apartheid and persecution pursuant to Article 9 of the Rome Statute, as well as to issue proactive statements to prevent Israeli practices that may contribute to the continuation of war crimes.

They also demanded that the crimes committed by Israel during its unjustified military attack on the Gaza Strip in August 2022 be included in the ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine.

Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.

Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 200 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to the United Nations, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank this year is the highest in 16 years.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians.

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