Palestinians urge UN to halt Israel’s “military, settlement escalations”

RAMALLAH, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged Thursday the UN Middle East Peace Envoy Nikolay Mladenov to intervene to halt Israel’s military and settlement “escalations” against Palestinians.

“The international institutions, particularly the UN, must take serious steps to press Israel to halt its military and settlement escalations,” Hamdallah said in an press statement.

The prime minister also called for international protection for the Palestinians and the Islamic and Christian holy sites from the violations of Israel’s occupation and settlement.

Tensions have been rising recently in the West Bank, as three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the past two days.

Israel has withheld bodies of two killed Palestinians, to raise the number of bodies it withheld to 19.

Issam Arouri, director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid an Human Rights Center, said in a statement that “Israel is the only country in the world that withholds bodies of victims to bargain on them or to demand conditions of their release.”

He added that the Israeli judicial system allows this “discriminating practice by allowing the army a period of six months to vindicate the process of withholding the bodies.”

Israel’s Knesset approved a bill last month that allows the army to delay the release of bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and deciding the circumstances of their burial.

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