'For this violence to end, the occupation must end': UN rights chief condemns Mid-East violence

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By Euronews  with AP
A Palestinian man walks between scorched cars in a scrapyard, in Hawara, near Nablus, West Bank
A Palestinian man walks between scorched cars in a scrapyard, in Hawara, near Nablus, West Bank   -  Copyright  AP Photo

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for the occupation of Palestine to end as 2022 saw a record number of people killed in the region.

“For this violence to end, the occupation must end,” Volker Türk said in his annual report on the situation. “On all sides, there are people who know this.”

Last year marked two tragic records in the region: the highest number of Palestinians killed in 17 years and the highest number of Israelis killed since 2016.

At least 131 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in 2022.

“Decade upon decade of loss and violence,” Türk said when he presented his report in Geneva.

“Violence against the occupation; violence to uphold and enforce it. I condemn the violence that has killed and harmed so many people on both sides – and which generates overwhelming despair.”

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Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Mohammed Saleem, 15 during his funeral in the West Bank village of Azzoun.AP Photo

European Union envoy calls for accountability

The report comes as a European Union envoy called for accountability after scores of Israeli settlers went on a violent rampage in the northern West Bank, setting dozens of cars and homes on fire after two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gunman.

Palestinian medics said one man was killed and four others were badly wounded in what appeared to be the worst outburst of settler violence in decades.

"It is absolutely necessary for us that accountability is fully ensured, that the perpetrators be brought to justice, that those who lost property be compensated," Kuhn von Burgsdorff, the head of the envoy, said.

Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group, reported that last year, over 90% of investigations into settler attacks in the occupied West Bank over the past decade and a half were closed without formal charges. 

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Israeli border police officers block hundreds of Israeli left-wing activists from staging a solidarity rally in the West Bank.AP Photo

Israeli troops fire stun grenades at solidarity rally

Meanwhile, Israeli troops fired stun grenades and tear gas on Friday to block busloads of Israeli left-wing activists from staging a solidarity rally for the Palestinian town that was set ablaze earlier this week.

The soldiers shoved protesters to the ground in the occupied West Bank town of Hawara, activists said, pressing their knees into their necks and backs before briefly detaining them. 

According to Sally Abed from the group Standing Together, at least two protesters were briefly arrested. The army threw them to the ground, kicking and handcuffing them, she said.

The Israeli army said it had decided to declare Hawara a closed military zone because of the soaring tensions following Sunday's settler-led attack. 

When Israeli and Palestinian activists attempted to violate the military order, security forces used tear gas and other means to disperse the crowds and maintain order, the military said.

A military spokesperson, Richard Hecht, said that the military would pursue “a de-escalation policy in the region” after “this complex and tragic week for all sides.” He did not elaborate.