UN chief condemns Israeli violence in Jenin, calls for respect for international law

UNITED NATIONS  (AA) : The head of the UN strongly condemned Israeli violence Thursday and its excessive use of force in the occupied West Bank City of Jenin.

“Israel’s airstrikes and ground operations in a crowded refugee camp were the worst violence in the West Bank in many years, with a significant impact on civilians, including more than 100 injured and thousands forced to flee,” Antonio Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

“I strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror,” he said.

“It applies to all use of excessive force. And obviously, in this situation, there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces,” he said when asked by Anadolu if it specifically applies to Israel.

Guterres demanded that Israel abide by its obligations under international law, including a duty to exercise restraint and use proportional force, and the duty to minimize damage and injury and respect and preserve life.

”The use of airstrikes is inconsistent with the conduct of law enforcement operations,” he said.

Guterres said Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility to protect the civilian population.

He acknowledged Israel’s security concerns but said escalation is not the answer.

”It simply bolsters radicalization and leads to a deepening cycle of violence and bloodshed,” he said.

Guterres said it was not ”realistic” to have a military force sent to Israel.

”I don’t think the Israeli government would consent on that possibility, but I think we need to find mechanisms to allow for the protection of civilians in these dramatic circumstances.”

The Israeli army withdrew from Jenin early Wednesday, concluding its largest military operation in the city in more than 20 years.

At least 12 Palestinians were killed, including five children, and more than 140 injured in the offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The raid, which started Monday, has also left a massive trail of destruction across the West Bank city, with dozens of homes, vehicles, shops and utility lines destroyed.