EU, UN 'concerned' over Israel shooting of Palestinians

EU, UN 'concerned' over Israel shooting of Palestinians

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
EU, UN concerned over Israel shooting of Palestinians

An Israeli soldier covers a small video camera that a Palestinian man was using to film a clash in El Aroub, north of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, 23 January 2013. News reports state that Israeli soldiers were attacked with rocks and molotov cocktails, and responded using 'crowd control' methods, but Lubna Hanash, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman, was killed when shot in the head with live ammunition. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

Officials from the United Nations and European Union on Wednesday expressed concern over a spate of incidents in which Palestinian civilians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli fire.

In separate statements, UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley and the local EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah said security forces should largely refrain from using live fire.

In a two week period in January, four Palestinians were killed in separate incidents across the West Bank, including a woman and two minors.

Rawley said he was "seriously concerned by the increased casualties resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank." "Eight Palestinian civilians, including three minors and one woman, have been killed since mid-November in separate incidents in the West Bank," he said in the statement.

The EU missions also said they were "deeply concerned by the number of Palestinians killed recently... in separate incidents involving recourse by Israeli forces to lethal force." Both statements noted that the Israeli military was reportedly investigating the incidents, but urged security forces operating in the West Bank to avoid using live fire unless absolutely necessary.

"We reiterate the need for security forces, whether Israeli or Palestinian, to refrain from use of lethal force, except in cases where there is a real and imminent threat to life," the EU statement said. "The Humanitarian Coordinator urges maximum restraint in order to avoid further civilian casualties," the UN statement said.

"Using live ammunition against civilians may constitute excessive use of force and any such occurrences should be investigated in a timely, thorough, independent and impartial manner," Rawley said.

The Israeli military and foreign ministry had no comment on the statements.

Last week, 21-year-old Lubna Hanash died after being hit in the face by Israeli gunfire outside a college near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to Palestinian medics.

Others killed in January include 15-year-old Saleh Amarin, who was also shot in the face, during clashes in Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem and Samir Ahmed Awad, 17, who was shot near Israel's separation barrier on January 15.

Just three days earlier, a 21-year-old was shot dead as he tried to sneak into Israel from the southern West Bank.