Press briefing note on Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Rupert Colville 
Location: Geneva
Date: 29 January 2019
Subject:  Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

We are deeply concerned about the protracted and extremely violent attack on Palestinians in the West Bank village of Al Mughayyir last Saturday (26 January), during which a 38-year-old Palestinian father of four, Hamdi Taleb Na’asan, was shot in the back and killed.

The monitoring by our staff in the West Bank suggests that the killing took place after a group of up to 30 Israelis  – some of them armed –  from the nearby Israeli outpost of Adei Ad first of all attacked Palestinian farmers in their fields, and then descended on the village itself where they used live ammunition to shoot at the villagers and their houses.

The confrontation led to six villagers being shot with live ammunition, leaving three of them in a serious condition. It is unclear whether any settlers were also injured, and if so how many.

Although Israeli security forces were stationed near the village and were immediately alerted to the attack, witnesses informed our staff – who visited the village yesterday – that it took some two hours before they intervened.

When Israeli security forces did finally intervene, the main focus of their action appears to have been to disperse the Palestinian villagers using teargas. Three more Palestinians were injured by live ammunition after the intervention of the security forces. However it is not clear at this point whether they were shot by settlers or by soldiers. In total, 20 villagers were injured during the course of the day.

This violence took place in the context of a surge in settler violence in the West Bank, which has reached its highest levels since 2015. According to OCHA, the average number of violent incidents instigated by settlers per month increased by 57% in 2018 compared to 2017, and by 175% in comparison to 2016.

Israel as the occupying power, is obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population from such attacks. Those responsible for settler violence must be brought to account.

The Israeli security forces have opened an initial probe into the killing of Mr. Na’asan, and we welcome this. We urge the authorities to ensure there is a full investigation into his killing and the injuries caused to others, and that it is independent, transparent and effective.

END