UN urges Israelis and Palestinians to end violence

Ban Ki-moon says visit to Middle East reflects sense of global alarm at escalation in violence

 UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon: There was little optimism on either side his words would help end the bloodshed. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon: There was little optimism on either side his words would help end the bloodshed. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

 

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, in a surprise visit to the Middle East, has called on Israel and the Palestinians to end the current wave of violence, but there was little optimism on either side his words would help end the bloodshed.

The UN chief, due to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today after discussions with Israeli leaders yesterday, urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act quickly to stop the surge in violence.

“My visit reflects the sense of global alarm at the dangerous escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “I am here to encourage and support all efforts to lower tensions and prevent the situation from spinning out of control.”

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Mr Abbas for glorifying terrorism against Israel, accusing the Palestinian president of “joining the Islamic State” in claiming Israel is harming the al-Aqsa mosque.

Mr Ban said he was concerned about statements by Palestinian leaders and he called on Israel to do its utmost to calm the situation.

Mr Abbas said the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank has made the lives of the Palestinian people unbearable. Speaking ahead of his meeting with Mr Ban, Mr Abbas said that young Palestinians have been driven to despair and are pressurised by the growing aggression of Israel and Israeli settlers, and the lack of a diplomatic future.

The international push to the end the violence will resume when United States secretary of state John Kerry holds talks with leaders of both sides in the coming days.

Stabbings and shootings

Nine Israelis have been killed in stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. At least 44 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and police. An Eritrean, mistaken for an assailant, also died after being shot by a security guard and attacked by an angry Israeli crowd.

After a relatively calm day on Monday, violence resumed yesterday with a number of incidents in the West Bank.

Killing of Palestinian

A Palestinian driver was shot and killed by troops in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem after he drove his car into an Israeli soldier and civilian, lightly wounding both of them.

A knife was found in his car, which had Israeli licence plates.

A settler standing on the side of the road was hit and killed by a Palestinian truck after he stepped out of his car, which had come under attack from Palestinian rock-throwers.

The truck driver later handed himself over to the Palestinian security forces, claiming it was a traffic incident.

Troops shot and killed a Palestinian man during a demonstration near Hebron. An Israeli military spokesman said the man had tried to stab a soldier.

Israeli troops have rearrested Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas figure in the West Bank, accusing him of inciting violence among the Palestinian public after he called for an uprising against the Israeli occupation.