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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warns situation in West Bank deteriorating significantly

Israeli forces take positions behind vehicles, during a military operation, in Qabatiyah, near Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on June 13, 2024. (Photo by Reuters)

The top United Nations human rights official has warned of the worsening situation for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the “unconscionable death and suffering” in the Gaza Strip.

The situation in the West Bank, including East al-Quds, is "dramatically deteriorating,” Volker Turk told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

He said 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, were killed by Israeli military forces or settlers from the start of the current war in Gaza in October to June 15, “in many cases raising serious concerns of unlawful killings.”

The remarks came on the same day that a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli troops during a raid in the central part of the West Bank.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing local sources, reported that Israeli forces stormed the town of Beit Fajjar, located eight kilometers (4.9 miles) south of Bethlehem, deployed around a gas station and prevented locals from moving.

They opened gunfire at a young man while he was present at the western entrance to the town, seriously wounding him.

Following the shooting, Israeli forces shut down the area and prevented ambulance crews and local residents from reaching the scene.

The 39-year-old man, identified as Bilal Adel Abdel Fattah Balu by the Palestinian Health Ministry, succumbed to his wounds.

Separately, two Palestinian teenage boys sustained gunshot wounds as Israeli soldiers broke into the town of Salim, located six kilometers east of Nablus, sparking confrontations with locals.

Israeli forces then fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas canisters at residents, injuring two teenagers with live ammunition in the foot.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, three young Palestinians were shot during confrontations with Israeli forces in the town of Beit Ummar, located eleven kilometers (6.8 miles) northwest of al-Khalil.

'Unconscionable death and suffering' in Gaza 

Turk also told the 47-member council that he was “appalled” by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza, where “there has been unconscionable death and suffering.”

“More than 120,000 people in Gaza, overwhelmingly women and children, have been killed or injured since October 7 as a result of the intensive Israeli offensives,” the official said.

“Since Israel escalated its operations into Rafah in early May, almost one million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced yet again while aid delivery and humanitarian access deteriorated further,” he added.

Since Israel unleashed a war on the besieged Gaza Strip in early October 2023, casualties have been rising in the West Bank as a result of intensified near-daily Israeli raids into villages and cities in the occupied territories.

At least 533 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces or extremist Jewish settlers since the war began. According to the UN, 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the United Nations began keeping such records in 2005.

At least 37,372 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have also been killed in Israeli attacks across the Gaza Strip over the past eight months during the regime's genocidal war.

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