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UN chief Ban Ki-moon asks Israel, Palestinians to stop attacks
20-10-2015

Jerusalem: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday warned that mounting violence in Israel and the West Bank risks “spinning out of control,” urging Palestinians to halt attacks and telling Israelis to refrain from harsh crackdowns.

The surprise visit by the UN chief highlights growing international concern over a burst of killings and attacks in recent weeks that have claimed dozens of lives and has raised fears of another sustained Palestinian uprising.

A series of attacks by Palestinians, many of them involving knife assaults in Jerusalem, have spread panic among Israelis. Palestinians, in turn, accuse Israeli police and soldiers of using brutal tactics that have resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.

During a news conference with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Ban called for calm and said his visit to the region reflected “sense of global alarm at the dangerous escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He also held out hope for a resolution to the recent unrest, saying that it is “not too late to avoid a broader crisis.”

Ban acknowledged Palestinian grievances, which include expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but urged for those contemplating violence to “put down the weapons of despair.”

For Israeli leaders, he also noted the public fears and need for security. Yet he said the tougher measures and reprisals, such as “walls, checkpoints... and home demolitions” only deepen the tensions. “I am here,” Ban added, “to encourage and support all efforts to lower tensions and prevent the situation from spinning out of control.”

At least 10 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the last month. During that time, Israeli gunfire and clashes killed 43 Palestinians, which includes 21 people who were labeled by authorities as assailants. On Sunday, a migrant from Eritrea died after he was shot by a security guard and beaten by an Israeli mob, apparently after being mistaken for a Palestinian.

Ban was expected to meet separately later Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The violence, meanwhile, showed no signs of easing.

Israel’s military said a soldier and civilian were wounded when a suspected Palestinian driver rammed into their vehicle in the Hebron area of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The assailant was shot dead at the site of the attack, the military said.

Also in the Hebron area, local media reported that a Palestinian struck an Israeli man with his car. The Israeli exited the vehicle after it was hit by a barrage of rocks, according to the Israeli and Palestinian media reports.