Tension in West Bank fuels atmosphere of fear, hatred: UN official

An escalation of tension in the West Bank would fuel an atmosphere of fear, hatred and anger between Israelis and Palestinians, a senior UN official warned on Saturday.

“It is necessary to reduce tensions immediately to open the way for decisive initiatives aimed at creating a viable political horizon between the two sides,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said in a press statement sent to Xinhua.

On Friday and Saturday, four Palestinians were killed and dozens injured by Israeli soldiers in several West Bank towns and villages, said the Palestinian ministry of health.

Since early January, more than 100 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers, the ministry said. Since March, 18 Israelis have been killed in attacks carried out by Palestinians in Israeli cities.

Wennesland expressed his concern over the deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, calling on Israelis and Palestinians to restore calm and avoid further escalation.

“The fragility of the situation underscores the urgency of changing the dynamics on the ground while addressing the underlying security and political issues that fuel the current instability,” he added.

On Friday, a senior Palestinian official called on the United States to intervene immediately and stop the Israeli army from killing Palestinians in the West Bank.

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh urged the U.S. to immediately intervene “and stop these daily crimes in the West Bank, which would have dangerous consequences that no one can bear, and then it will be too late.”

Tension in the West Bank has been mounting since March after the Israeli army intensified its military actions and operations against Palestinian militants and activists.

In the June 1967 Middle East war, Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, which are claimed by the Palestinians, and has controlled the areas ever since. The Palestinians aspire to establish a Palestinian state on these territories. ■

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