UN chief Ban Ki-moon asks Israel, Palestinians to stop attacks
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.”
Palestinian grievances, which include expanding Jewish settlements in the West
Bank, but urged for those contemplating violence to “put down the weapons of
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.