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ISRAEL

Israel bars Palestinians in wake of Tel Aviv shooting

Thomas Coex, AFP | The Dome of the Rock atop Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
3 min

The Israeli army said Friday that it was temporarily barring Palestinians from entering Israel in the wake of a shooting that killed four civilians this week in Tel Aviv, a move the UN rights’ chief said may amount to “collective punishment”.

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An army spokeswoman told AFP that crossings to Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be closed for Palestinians in all but "medical and humanitarian cases".

She said that the closure would remain in force until midnight Sunday, when the Jewish holiday of Shavuot ends.

A spokeswoman for COGAT, the defence ministry unit which manages civilian affairs in the occupied West Bank, said that about 10,000 Palestinians were nevertheless allowed into Jerusalem for Muslim prayers on the first Friday of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex.

The worshippers would have to return home after Friday prayers, the spokeswoman said.

The office of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, condemned Wednesday's shooting in a popular Tel Aviv night spot.

It said in a statement on Friday that Israel had an "obligation" to bring those responsible to account, though adding that it was “deeply concerned” some measures could constitute "collective punishment", which is illegal under international law.

The Jewish state's reaction "includes measures that may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time," the statement said.

Assailants' bodies held

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Thursday and announced a slew of measures against Palestinians in the wake of the Tel Aviv shooting, the deadliest attack in a months-long wave of violence.

Among the measures, the government said it was revoking entry permits for more than 80,000 Palestinians to visit relatives in Israel during Ramadan.

It also revoked work permits for 204 of the attackers' relatives and the army blockaded their West Bank hometown of Yatta, with soldiers patrolling and stopping cars as they entered and exited.

The government also said it was sending two additional battalions – amounting to hundreds more troops – into the occupied West Bank.

Newly installed Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered that the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks would no longer be returned to their families for burial, a spokesman said.

The policy is backed by Israeli hawks as a deterrent measure.

Israel last closed its crossings for two days in May during its Remembrance Day and Independence Day commemorations.

A closure is often imposed over Jewish holidays, when large numbers of Israelis congregate to pray or celebrate, presenting a potential target for Palestinian attacks.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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