Monday 26 September 2016

UN chief calls for calm after more Jerusalem clashes

Aron Heller in Jerusalem

Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon hold a joint presser at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Photo: Getty Images
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon hold a joint presser at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Photo: Getty Images
A masked Palestinian protester takes a position during clashes with Israeli troops near the border between Israel and Central Gaza Strip. Photo: Reuters
A wounded Palestinian protester is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops near the border between Israel and Central Gaza Strip. Photo: Reuters
An Israeli woman checks out a new pistol at a gun shop in Tel Aviv. Photo: Reuters
A Palestinian swings a sling during clashes with Israeli troops, near Ramallah, West Bank. Photo: AP
A Palestinian hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli troops, near Ramallah, West Bank. Photo: AP
A Palestinian swings a sling during clashes with Israeli troops, near Ramallah, West Bank. Photo: AP
An Israeli solder takes aim, during clashes with Palestinians near Ramallah, West Bank. Photo: AP

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for calm during a surprise visit to Jerusalem yesterday ahead of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a high-profile gambit to bring an end to a month-long wave of violence.

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The visit comes amid unrest that erupted a month ago over tensions surrounding a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims. It soon spread to Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and then to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. A spate of Palestinian attacks, most of which have involved stabbings, has caused panic across Israel and raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a new round of bloodshed.

The violence continued in the West Bank yesterday.

A Palestinian attacker rammed his car into a group of Israelis waiting at a bus stop at a junction on the outskirts of Jerusalem in the West Bank, the Israeli military said. He then attempted to stab bystanders. A civilian and a soldier were injured in the attack before the attacker was shot and killed, it said.

Earlier, a 24-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces after he stabbed an Israeli military officer and lightly wounded him, the Israeli military and Palestinian health officials said. The military said it happened during a "violent riot" of Palestinian demonstrators.

In a separate incident in the West Bank, an Israeli man was killed after being run over during a clash with Palestinians.

The man exited his car after Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at it and he began to hit passing Palestinian cars with a large stick, according to an Associated Press photographer who witnessed the incident. The man hit a passing truck with the stick, and the truck ran the man over. The Israeli military confirmed his death.

The truck driver turned himself in, saying he hit the Israeli by accident while trying to swerve out of the way, according to a Palestinian security official.

Mr Ban arrived from Europe yesterday afternoon and is set to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He called for calm during a press conference with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and said "no society should live in fear."

"My visit reflects the sense of global alarm at the dangerous escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians," he said. "I am here to encourage and support all efforts to lower tensions and prevent the situation from spinning out of control."

Mr Ban added, "It's not too late to avoid a broader crisis."

Prior to the visit, Mr Ban issued a video message late on Monday calling for calm on both sides.

He said he understood the Palestinians' frustrations, but that violence would only harm their legitimate aspirations.

Addressing Israelis, he said he understood their fears due to the security deterioration, but said there was no military solution.

Irish Independent

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