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2023 is already the deadliest year on record for Palestinians in occupied West Bank, says UN envoy

Originally published: Peoples Dispatch on August 22, 2023 (more by Peoples Dispatch)  |

The UN’s Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, told the UN Security Council in a special briefing on Monday, August 21, that Israeli occupation forces have killed over 200 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank this year, surpassing the total number of deaths last year (167). This year’s death toll is already the highest since 2005, Wennesland noted.

The UN envoy blamed “unilateral acts” by Israel, including increased settlement expansion, demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures, and settler violence, as the main reasons for the drastic rise in the number of deaths in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli state violence against Palestinians has increased tremendously in the last couple of years. Israeli security forces have also carried out near daily raids in Palestinian localities, with increased demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures including schools. They have also repeatedly allowed extremist illegal settlers to go on rampages inside Palestinian localities under tight security cover.

On Tuesday, Israeli occupation forces killed another Palestinian teenager during a raid in al-Zababdeh town near Jenin in the occupied West Bank. 17-year-old Othman Atef Abu Kharj died in a hospital in Jenin after being shot by the Israeli forces, Wafa reported.

Some Palestinian groups have tried to confront the Israeli security forces and retaliated against the occupation’s attempts to forcefully displace Palestinians. Wennesland noted that around 30 Israelis have been killed this year in such Palestinian actions.

Russian representative Dmitry Polyanskiy emphasized that “the long-term stagnation of the Middle East peace process is compounded by Israel’s illegal unilateral actions creating irreversible facts on the ground.”

Wennesland underlined,

While we urgently focus on most critical issues and on de-escalating the situation on the ground, we cannot ignore the need to restore a political horizon.

He also noted the dire financial condition of most of the Palestinian institutions such as the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has a projected deficit of over USD 370 million this year. The condition of UN agencies such as the UN Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) is similar, threatening the food security of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories.

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