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UN chief warns against misuse of force as he meets Netanyahu

AFP , Tuesday 20 Oct 2015
Netanyahu, Ban
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon enter the room before delivering a joint statement to the media at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem October 20, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday warned against any misuse of force as he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in a bid to calm nearly three weeks of unrest.

Ban also spoke of the danger of allowing an escalation "into a religious conflict with potential regional implications" and urged efforts to ensure that did not occur.

The UN secretary general told reporters that "security measures can be counterproductive if they are applied without special efforts to defuse the situation before people lose their lives."

Any misuse of force, he said, "may breed the very frustrations and anxieties from which violence" can erupt.

Israeli security forces have faced accusations of excessive force against Palestinians in the current wave of protests.

Videos of Israeli security forces shooting Palestinians that have spread online have helped feed anger, with Palestinians viewing some of the shootings as unjustified.

Netanyahu strongly rejected such accusations.

"Israel is acting as any democracy would to defend its citizens," he said. "We are not -- I repeat -- we are not using excessive force.

"I believe it is time to tell the truth about the causes of Palestinian terrorism. It is not the settlements, it is not the peace process, it is the desire to destroy the state of Israel pure and simple."

Ban also acknowledged the security challenges facing Israel in the face of a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car attacks, while condemning militant groups who have expressed support for them.

"Over the past weeks I have been deeply troubled by statements from Palestinian militant groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad praising such heinous attacks," he said.

Eight Israelis have been killed in protests that began at the start of the month. More than 40 Palestinians have lost their lives.

Many of the attacks have seen young Palestinians stab Israelis before being shot dead.

The current wave of protests and repression started in late July when 18-month old toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

The parents of the toddler, Riham and Saad, and their other son Ahmad later lost their lives after suffering serious injuries in the arson attack.

Palestinians have been protesting repeated Israeli and illegal Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and closing the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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