UN: Ban on Palestinians entering Israel is ‘collective punishment’
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UN: Ban on Palestinians entering Israel is ‘collective punishment’

Human rights commissioner says blanket prohibition imposed after Tel Aviv terror attack violates international law

United Nations Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (screen capture: YouTube/Nizar Abboud)
United Nations Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (screen capture: YouTube/Nizar Abboud)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein on Friday criticized a blanket ban on Palestinian entry into Israel imposed in the wake of a deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, saying it could be classed as “collective punishment” and therefore illegal under international law.

Hussein’s spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters in Geneva on Friday that the move by Israel “may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians,” Reuters reported. Hussein did, however, condemn the Tel Aviv attack, Shamdasani said.

Four people were killed and more than a dozen were wounded — three seriously — when two Palestinian terrorists opened fire at the Sarona food market in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.

In Israel’s initial response to the shooting, the Defense Ministry civilian administration for the Palestinian territories, COGAT, said early Thursday that it had frozen 83,000 permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to visit relatives in Israel during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Special Ramadan permits were also suspended for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to travel out of the territory to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The UN Security Council on Thursday also condemned the attack, in its first denunciation of Palestinian violence since the wave of violence began in October. The Council decried “in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, Israel,” and its members “expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Israel,” according to a statement from the office of Israel’s envoy to the UN.

Palestinians cross from the West Bank city of Bethlehem as they head to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City to attend the first Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)
Palestinians cross from the West Bank city of Bethlehem as they head to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City to attend the first Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 10, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Security Council also “underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice,” the statement said.

The denunciation came after Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon wrote a letter to the Council asking them to condemn the carnage.

Since October 2015, 33 Israelis and four foreign nationals have been killed and hundreds more injured in a spate of attacks, though the violence had dramatically waned of late. Some 200 Palestinians have also been killed, around two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks and the rest in clashes with troops, Israeli officials say.

Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016.(Moti Karelitz/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016.(Moti Karelitz/Flash90)
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