Geneva: The UN human rights office called
on Tuesday for Israel to stop Jewish settlers from attacking
Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, accusing the army of
failing to restrain settlers while being quick to use force
Israeli diplomats expressed surprise at the statement,
saying it was released without warning and made no mention of
violence directed at settlers.
The West Bank and Israel proper have experienced a spike
in violence in recent weeks, with hundreds of olive trees
uprooted, mosques attacked and Arab cemeteries vandalised.
Extremist settlers are believed to be behind the
violence, which they say is the "price tag" for army and
government policies that they feel are unfair.
Settlers have also clashed with Israeli soldiers in
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, said Israel was legally obliged to protect
Palestinian civilians and property.
"There appears to be certainly a partial siding with the
settlers, and perhaps not intervening strongly enough to
protect the Palestinian villagers," Colville told reporters in
He cited the fatal shooting of a Palestinian by an
Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Qusra on September
23, the beating of two minors detained by troops the same day,
and the uprooting of 200 olive trees in the village on October
"The accountability for settler violence against
Palestinians is less than adequate, let`s say, and certainly
not comparable to the reverse cases," Colville said. "When
Palestinians attack settlers there`s always very, very strong
Diplomats at Israel`s mission to the United Nations in
Geneva rejected the claim.
"Anything can be reported to the Israeli authorities and
there will be legal procedures if necessary," Walid Abu-Haya,
an Israeli diplomat who deals with human rights matters said.