UN concern about violence in Al Aqsa mosque

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GENEVA: The United Nations voiced deep concern at the worsening violence between Israel and the Palestinians, as clashes erupted again at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque compound on Friday.

“We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel over the past month,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Friday’s new clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at the Al Aqsa mosque compound come after a month of deadly violence, as the Jewish festival of Passover overlaps with the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramazan.

The violence has sparked international fears of a major escalation, a year after similar unrest led to an 11-day war.

“The use of force by Israeli police resulting in widespread injuries among worshippers and staff in and around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound must be promptly, impartially, independently and transparently investigated,” she said.

“Those responsible for any violations should be held to account, and policies and procedures on the use of force reviewed with a view to avoid any further violations.” She said the conduct of Israeli security forces on April 15, captured in numerous videos, “raises serious concerns that the use of force was widespread, unnecessary and indiscriminate”, Shamdasani added.

Noting how the tension in Jerusalem had impacted on other areas, the spokeswoman said Israel’s intensified military operations in the West Bank, especially in Jenin, and the use of firearms by Palestinian militants, “place Palestinian residents at high risk”.

She said the weeks of violence included “the most serious attacks in Israel in many years”, with 12 Israelis and two foreign nationals “killed by attackers in incidents in Beersheba, Bnei Brak, Hadera and Tel Aviv”.

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