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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
PA A man walks by destroyed cars in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank (Nasser Nasser/AP)

EU criticises Israel's use of force during Jenin raids, as UN refuses to retract condemnation

Palestine’s EU representative also said the bloc is “very concerned” about the weapons used in the raid.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 8th 2023, 2:41 PM

A EUROPEAN ENVOY has blasted Israel today over the “proportionality” of the force it uses, as international envoys toured Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, following this week’s deadly raid.

His remarks echoed UN chief Antonio Guterres who on Thursday told reporters “there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces” in its 48-hour operation, the largest Israel has staged in the Palestinian territory for years.

It included air strikes and armoured bulldozers ripping up streets.

Jenin is a centre for multiple armed Palestinian groups, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the refugee camp a “terrorist nest”.

European Union representative to the Palestinian territories Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff made his comments as he led a delegation of UN officials and diplomats from 25 countries to the camp in the northern West Bank.

“We are concerned about the deployment of weaponry and weapons systems which question the proportionality of the military during the operation,” Kuehn von Burgsdorff said of the operation in which 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed.

“This cycle of violence has to end, it cannot continue. If there is no political solution to the conflict, we are going to stand here in a week’s time, in a month’s time, in a year’s time, with nothing changed,” he added.

As the delegation toured the camp, residents peered out of holes left in the walls by Israeli rockets, and local authorities tested a new camp-wide alarm system to warn of future raids.

United Nations condemnation

Yesterday, Israel’s United Nations ambassador called on secretary-general Antonio Guterres to retract his condemnation of the country’s excessive use of force in the military operation that targeted a refugee camp in the West Bank.

But a UN spokesperson said yesterday the secretary-general “stands by those views”.

Guterres, angered by the impact of the Israeli airstrikes and attack on the Jenin refugee camp, said the operation left more than 100 civilians injured, uprooted thousands of residents, damaged schools and hospitals, and disrupted water and electricity networks.

He also criticised Israel for preventing the injured from getting medical care and humanitarian workers from reaching everyone in need.

Israel’s two-day offensive, designed to crack down on Palestinian militants, destroyed the Jenin camp’s narrow roads and alleyways, forced thousands of people to flee their homes and killed 12 Palestinians. One Israeli soldier also was killed.

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

Asked whether this condemnation applied to Israel, he said: “It applies to all use of excessive force, and obviously in this situation, there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces.” (1) PA Palestinians walk by a damaged house in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, (Nasser Nasser, AP) PA

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan called the UN chief’s remarks “shameful, far-fetched, and completely detached from reality.”

He said the Israeli military action in Jenin “focused solely on combating the murderous Palestinian terror targeting innocent Israeli civilians.”

UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said the secretary-general “clearly condemns all of the violence that has been affecting the civilians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, regardless of who is the perpetrator”.

The UN Security Council discussed Israel’s military operation in Jenin behind closed doors on Friday at the request of the United Arab Emirates and received a briefing from assistant secretary-general Khaled Khiari.

Erdan sent a letter to the 15 council members and Guterres before the council meeting saying that over the past year, 52 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, and many attacks were carried out from Jenin or from the area.

“The international community and the Security Council must unconditionally condemn the latest Palestinian terror attacks and hold Palestinian leadership accountable,” he said.

The Security Council took no action.

© AFP 2023

Includes reporting from Press Association

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