The UN rights chief demanded Tuesday an end to surging violence in the occupied West Bank, saying it was “unfathomable” that more than 500 Palestinians had been killed there since October 7.

Volker Turk said at least 505 Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank by the Israeli military and West Bank settlers since the war in nearby Gaza erupted nearly eight months ago.

Palestinian officials have given a toll of at least 523.

Two dozen Israelis, including eight soldiers, have also been killed in West Bank clashes during the same period, he said.

“As if the tragic events in Israel and then Gaza over the past eight months were not enough, the people of the occupied West Bank are also being subjected to day-after-day of unprecedented bloodshed,” he said in a statement.

“It is unfathomable that so many lives have been taken in such a wanton fashion.”

Turk decried the “pervasive impunity for such crimes” in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, and which had seen a surge in violence even before October 7.

He pointed to a case over the weekend in which Israeli forces shot dead a teenager and critically injured another who later died near the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho in the West Bank.

He said CCTV footage indicated that the boys were shot at a distance of 70 meters while running away after throwing stones and/or Molotov cocktails towards a military post.

Turk’s statement said that the Israeli military had often used lethal force “as a first resort against Palestinian protesters … in cases where those shot clearly did not represent an imminent threat to life.”

With AFP