GENEVA, Feb 4, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - UN rights chief Volker Turk on Friday called for an end to the "illogic of escalation" between Israel and the Palestinians, amid a spike in deadly violence between the two.
Turk criticised Israel for measures that "can only lead to further violence and bloodshed", following a surge in attacks and fighting that have drawn calls from the international community for calm and restraint.
Since the start of this year, the conflict has killed 35 Palestinians -- including attackers, militants and civilians -- as well as the six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian.
"Rather than doubling down on failed approaches of violence and coercion... I urge everyone involved to step out of the illogic of escalation that has only ended in dead bodies, shattered lives and utter despair," Turk said in a statement.
"Recent measures being taken by the Government of Israel are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law," he continued.
"We know from experience that the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians."
The UN rights chief was referring to measures to ease access to firearms announced by Israel's government last week following a shooting by a Palestinian in east Jerusalem that killed six Israelis and one Ukrainian.
The following day, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and injured two Israelis the in Silwan neighbourhood just outside the walled Old City in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem attacks followed the deadliest Israeli army raid in the West Bank in almost 20 years that on January 26 left 10 Palestinians dead in Jenin, including armed militants.
Turk urged "all those holding public office or other positions of authority -- indeed everyone -- to stop using language that incites hatred of 'the other'."
He added that other measures announced by Israel in response to the Jerusalem attack, including "punitive forced evictions and house demolitions" may amount to "collective punishment".
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region last week, urging deescalation following the deadly upsurge in violence.
The latest uptick follows the deadliest year in the West Bank since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in the territory in 2005.
Some 235 people died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year, with nearly 90 percent of the fatalities on the Palestinian side, according to AFP figures.