The United Nations human rights office has urged the Tel Aviv regime to refrain from employing excessive force against Palestinians amid ongoing clashes and tensions in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and in the occupied West Bank.
Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on Tuesday expressed concerns about tensions resulting from access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinian worshipers wishing to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“We urge the Israeli authorities to ensure that security forces only employ force as a last resort and in full accordance with the standards laid out under international law for maintaining public order, including detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition,” Colville said.
The remarks by the UN official comes amid a flare-up of tensions in and around the compound in recent weeks.Israeli soldiers have attacked and injured dozens of Palestinians in rallies held against Tel Aviv’s military assaults on the al-Aqsa Mosque, which started on September 13.
On Monday, skirmishes broke out in the holy site after the deployment of Israeli soldiers to the area for the Jewish Sukkot holiday. Meanwhile, more clashes were reported on Tuesday between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators protesting across the occupied West Bank in support of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
“We note with concern allegations that Israeli security forces may, in some cases, have used excessive force against Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem in recent days,” he stated.
The recent wave of violence has seen Israeli settlers and soldiers attacking Palestinian worshipers following the deployment of Israeli troops to the area for the Jewish Rosh Hashanah New Year holiday.
Last month, Israel imposed harsh restrictions on entries into the al-Aqsa Mosque, especially limiting the entry of Palestinians into the compound.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Its compound is also highly respected by Jews and Christians.
“We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to take measures to restore calm in the area, including through the maintenance of the historic status quo at Haram Al-Sharif, which includes the Al Aqsa Compound,” said Colville.
Concerns about Israeli use of live bullets
The UN rights official also warned about new rules that allow Israeli forces to target Palestinian protesters in the occupied territories with live ammunition.
“We also call for restraint following the authorization granted by Israeli authorities on Sunday on the use of live fire in life-threatening situations in East Jerusalem.”
Tel Aviv has moved to toughen measures against Palestinian stone-throwers in al-Quds (Jerusalem), broadening the rules that allow Israeli military forces to target Palestinians with live bullets.
On September 24,Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that his cabinet “has decided to authorize police to use live ammunition against people throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.”
Earlier, Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had approved Netanyahu’s plan to change the rules of engagement and declare “war against stone-throwers and firebomb throwers” in the occupied Palestinian territories.