UN Chief Ban Cautions Against ‘Catastrophic’ Violence in Israel

United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon called for calm during a visit to Israel on Tuesday to boost diplomatic efforts to quell a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

“Israelis and Palestinians stand on the brink of another catastrophic period of violence,” Ban said at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. “We need to keep the situation from escalating into an intra-religious conflict with potential regional implications.”

Netanyahu said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to blame, accusing him of siding with Israel’s enemies Hamas and Islamic State by “fanning the flames” of religious incitement over a Jerusalem shrine sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Ban said he will meet Abbas in the West Bank on Wednesday and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Netanyahu on Thursday in Germany, before heading to the Middle East later this week to explore ways to end the violence, which broke out more than a year after the collapse of peace talks he led.

Eight Israelis have been killed this month by Arabs attacking with knives, guns and cars. About 50 Palestinians have also been killed, some of them assailants and others in clashes with Israeli troops. An Eritrean man was also killed after Israelis who mistook him for an attacker shot and beat him.

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in two separate incidents in the West Bank Tuesday, after soldiers opened fire while coming under attack, the Israeli army said. One Israeli civilian was also killed in the West Bank after being run down by a Palestinian truck in circumstances still under investigation, Israel police said.

At least three Palestinians were also killed by Israeli troops Tuesday in a clash on the border of the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Soldiers opened fire after they “identified terrorists preparing to attack forces carrying out defensive activities in the the southern Gaza Strip,” the Israeli army said.

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