RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, has warned that Israel’s decision to expand the licensing of firearms for Israelis would lead to further violence against the Palestinians.
“Plans by the Government of Israel to expedite and expand the licensing of firearms, with the stated intention of adding thousands of [Israeli] civilians carrying firearms – coupled with hateful rhetoric – can only lead to further violence and bloodshed,” Turk said in a statement.
“We know from experience that the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must work to reduce the availability of firearms in society,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that more Israelis will be permitted firearms licenses.
The move comes amid rising tension in the Palestinian territories following an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin last week that left 10 Palestinians dead. Seven Israelis were also killed in a shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Rather than fueling a worsening spiral of violence, I urge all those holding public office or other positions of authority – indeed everyone – to stop using language that incites hatred of the other,” Turk said. “Such fomenting of hatred is corrosive for all Israelis, Palestinians, all of society.”
The UN commissioner noted that so far 32 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire since the start of the year, while seven Israelis have also been killed.
“The people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory need their leaders to work – urgently – to create conditions conducive to a political solution to this protracted, untenable situation,” he added.