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Israeli police round up hundreds of undocumented Palestinians in wake of attack

June 17, 2017 8:11 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2017 7:27 P.M.)
Israeli police stand in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, October 5, 2015. (AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After Israeli authorities revoked permits for Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and Israel in response to a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police rounded up hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem on Saturday in a mass arrest campaign targeting Palestinians without Israeli permission to be in the city.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that police operations conducted across Jerusalem in search of “Palestinians that entered illegally” resulted in the detention of 350 Palestinians in a single day, with masses of Palestinians holding West Bank IDs being forced to board buses and sent back to the West Bank.

The statement added that Israeli forces continued security measures in an around the Old City “to prevent further attacks and respond if necessary.”

Three Palestinians were shot dead Friday evening after carrying out a combined stabbing and shooting that left an Israeli border policewoman killed, another officer lightly injured, and a number of bystanders -- including at least two Palestinians -- injured in the ensuing shoot-out between the assailants and Israeli forces.

In the wake of the incident, Israeli forces besieged the occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal -- the hometown of the three slain Palestinians -- sparking violent clashes that left four locals shot and injured by Israeli soldiers, as measurements were taken to punitive demolish the attackers’ homes.

Permits for the family members of the three attackers were revoked by Israeli authorities, including long-term work permits, while all permits issued to Palestinians for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were revoked as a punitive response to the attack.

Typically seen as a goodwill gesture, the Israeli government increases their issuance of permits for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank during Ramadan in order for Palestinians to visit their family members in Jerusalem and Israel and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.

However, before the permits were punitively rescinded in the wake of Friday's attack, this year already represented heightened restrictions for Palestinians compared to previous years, particularly for Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip.

"The violation of the rights to freedom of movement and freedom of religion, and the threat of collective punishment if conditions are not met by individual worshipers, only emphasize the punitive and arbitrary nature of the permit regime, as well as the depth of Israel’s continuous control over the Gaza Strip," Israeli rights group Gisha stated.

Around this time last year, in the wake of a shooting attack in Tel Aviv that left four Israelis dead, Israel imposed severe punitive measures across the occupied Palestinian territory in what the UN said could have amounted to collective punishment.

Similar to measures carried out Saturday in Deir Abu Mashaal, the hometown of the Tel Aviv shooters was sealed by Israeli forces, with the Israeli army detaining a number of locals during large-scale overnight raids there.

Israeli authorities had revoked 83,000 permits for Palestinians residing the occupied West Bank to visit Jerusalem and Israel for Ramadan in 2016, and suspended all agreements allowing Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip to travel to East Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli authorities also imposed a massive crackdown on undocumented Palestinian workers in Israel.

At the time, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said the UN was “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.”

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.”
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