UN deeply concerned over escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence

Tensions in Jerusalem have flared into the city's worst disturbances since 2017. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (AFP) - The United Nations rights office said Tuesday (May 11) it was "deeply concerned" over the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, east Jerusalem and Israel.

"We condemn all violence and all incitement to violence and ethnic division and provocations," spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

He said Israeli security forces must allow the freedom of expression, association and assembly.

"No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully," said the spokesman from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

When use of force is necessary, it should comply fully with international human rights standards, he added.

Mr Colville said the office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was particularly concerned about the impact of the violence on children.

"Detained children should be released," he said.

"Things need to calm down," Mr Colville added.

Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday, with 22 Palestinians killed in Gaza, in a dramatic escalation between the bitter rivals sparked by unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Tensions in Jerusalem have flared into the city's worst disturbances since 2017 as Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinian worshippers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

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