October 21, 2016

UN says Israel move on Palestinian permits may be collective punishment

Relatives and friends carry the body of Ido Ben Ari, one of four Israelis killed in an Palestinian shooting attack in Tel Aviv, during his funeral in Yavne,

Israel’s cancellation of entry permits for Palestinians following a deadly attack in Tel Aviv may amount to collective punishment, which is banned under international law, the United Nations’ top human rights official said on Friday.

The Israeli military on Thursday revoked permits for 83,000 Palestinians to visit Israel and said it would send hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank a day after a Palestinian gun attack that killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemns the attack but is deeply concerned about the revoking of permits “which may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time”, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.

Measures included the suspension of 204 work permits of individuals in the alleged attackers’ extended families and the sealing off of their entire home town by Israeli security forces, she added.

“Israel has a human rights obligation to bring those responsible to account for their crimes. And this it is doing. However the measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens – and maybe hundreds – of thousands of innocent Palestinians,” Shamdasani said.

The entry permits had been issued to Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank to visit relatives during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan now in progress.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault by the two gunmen on Wednesday in a fashionable shopping and dining market near Israel’s Defence Ministry, but Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups were quick to praise it.

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