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UN slams Israel's punitive measures against Palestinians following Tel Aviv attack

June 10, 2016 7:09 P.M. (Updated: June 17, 2016 10:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned on Friday the deadly Tel Aviv shooting which took place on Wednesday, while slamming the punitive security measures implemented by Israel in the aftermath as constituting collective punishment against Palestinians.

"We are also deeply concerned at the response of the Israeli authorities, which includes measures that may amount to collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time," Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement released by the United Nations.

While “Israel has a human rights obligation to bring those responsible to account for their crimes,” he continued, “the measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens -- maybe hundreds -- of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”

Al-Hussein noted that the attack, which left four Israelis dead and several injured, marked the largest single loss of Israeli life since a wave of unrest began in October that has seen some 30 Israelis killed.

Meanwhile, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the surge of violence, which has been largely characterized by small-scale Palestinian attacks on Israeli military targets and settlers.

In the wake of Wednesday’s gun attack, Israeli authorities have imposed severe security measures on Palestinians, including prohibiting entry for all Palestinians into Israel.

Israel also froze more than 83,000 permits allowing Palestinians to enter Israel and East Jerusalem during Ramadan, including freezing the work permits of 204 of the suspected attackers’ relatives who work in Israel.

Israeli authorities additionally froze all coordination with the besieged Gaza Strip for Ramadan, cancelling weekly visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued an order on Thursday to suspend the return of all Palestinian bodies killed during suspected attacks on Israelis, claiming that the measure could prevent future attacks, in spite of his predecessor Moshe Yaalon having argued the policy had only served to exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the alleged attackers’ hometown of Yatta in the West Bank district of Hebron has been sealed by Israeli forces, with Palestinians forbidden to leave except for humanitarian or medical cases, and the Israeli army detaining an unspecified number of locals during large-scale overnight raids there.

Israeli Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz said Yatta must undergo "a preventative 'root canal' treatment that will go down in history," adding that the town must be cordoned off for "a long time," amid a chorus of reactions by Israeli leadership threatening a harsh response for the act of “terror.”
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