Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, the European Union (EU) representative to Palestinian Authority-assigned territories, on Saturday blasted Israel over its counterterrorism operation in Jenin, claiming its use of force was disproportional, Turkish public broadcaster TRT World reported.
Speaking during a tour of Jenin, Kuehn von Burgsdorff said “the [Israeli] military assault on Jenin was painful” and a “violation of international law”.
“We are concerned about the deployment of weaponry and weapons systems which question the proportionality of the military during the operation,” Kuehn von Burgsdorff said.
“This cycle of violence has to end, it cannot continue. If there is no political solution to the conflict, we are going to stand here in a week’s time, in a month’s time, in a year’s time, with nothing changed,” he added.
The EU envoy’s comments follow UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ sharp criticism of the Israeli operation late last week.
Guterres claimed the operation in Jenin had left over 100 civilians injured, forced thousands to flee, damaged schools and hospitals and disrupted water and electricity networks. No civilians were killed during the operation.
He also criticized Israel for preventing the injured from getting medical care and humanitarian workers from reaching everyone in need.
“I strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror,” Guterres was quoted as having told reporters.
Asked whether this condemnation applied to Israel, he replied, “It applies to all use of excessive force, and obviously in this situation, there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces.”
Guterres called on Israel “to abide by its obligations under international law,” and to exercise restraint and use only proportional force.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, denounced Guterres’ remarks and said, “The Secretary-General’s remarks against Israel were shameful, farfetched, and completely detached from reality. The recent Israeli counter-terror activity in Jenin focused solely on combating the murderous Palestinian terror targeting innocent Israeli civilians.”
“Time after time,” the Ambassador said, “the UN Secretary-General disregards brutal Palestinian terror and neglects to condemn the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians. Yet when discussing defensive Israeli actions aimed at dismantling terror infrastructure, the SG is quick to issue extensive condemnations of Israel detached from the truth.”
“I call on the SG to retract his words and clearly condemn the Palestinian terror against civilians and for using other Palestinians as ‘human shields,’ rather than denouncing the democratic State of Israel for defending itself in the face of terror,” concluded Erdan.