U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.
A three-member U.N. panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.
READ ON: U.N. rights inquiry says Israel must remove settlers
Israeli soldiers shot dead a 21-year-old Palestinian woman near the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday and wounded another local youth, Palestinian medics said.
Witnesses said Lubna Hanash and her companions were walking to al-Arroub College when men in Israeli military uniforms travelling in a civilian car shot at the group.
Asked about the incident, an Israeli army spokeswoman said Palestinians had thrown petrol bombs at soldiers, who then opened fire.
Earlier on Wednesday, Saleh al-Amareen, 16, died of his wounds in an Israeli hospital after being shot in the head during clashes with Israeli soldiers in a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Friday.
Violence and deadly confrontations have become more frequent in the occupied West Bank since Israel announced plans late last year to expand settlements and the Palestinians won de-facto statehood recognition at the United Nations in November.
The worst winter storm in two decades has hit the eastern Mediterranean this week, bringing destruction and death to Syria and its neighbors who are already dealing with a refugee crisis from the country’s civil war.
Opposition activists in Syria, where war has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and cut off access to food, fuel and power for cities and towns, say dozens of people have died there in four days of relentless extreme weather.
READ ON: Winter storm brings devastation to Syria and neighbors
Mohammad Salaymeh was killed on his 17th birthday after going to buy a cake for the family celebration, shot dead by an Israeli paramilitary policewoman just two years older than him.
The Israeli police called him a terrorist and said he had pulled a gun on guards manning a permanent checkpoint next to his house in this divided city. The gun turned out to be a child’s toy and Salaymeh never got to his party.
READ ON: Rattled Israel holds key to Palestinian uprising
FLASH: U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly votes to grant Palestinians “non-member state” U.N. observer status; U.N. vote implicitly recognizes sovereign state of Palestine
Palestinians hold a banner during a rally in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations observer status from “entity” to “non-member state” November 29, 2012.
LIVE COVERAGE: UNGA meets on Palestine status resolution
An Israeli soldier smokes a cigarette at a staging area outside the northern Gaza Strip November 21, 2012. Israel and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt on the eighth day of intensive Israeli fire on the Gaza Strip and militant rocket attacks out of the enclave, Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian sources said. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
LIVE COVERAGE: Conflict along the Gaza Strip
Egypt announced on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, starting later in the day.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ceasefire would come into effect at 15:00 EDT, said Amr, whose country has been at the heart of efforts to broker an end to the conflict.
“Egypt has made great efforts … since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip,” Amr said.
“These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen,” he added.
“Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt’s sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed,” he said.