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U.N. Says Israeli Move on Palestinians May be Collective Punishment, France Warns over Fueling Tensions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinians pray in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound during the first Friday prayers of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on June 10, 2016. AFP

Geneva-Tel Aviv-The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, condemned on Friday the killing of four Israelis in an attack in Tel Aviv but stressed Israel’s cancellation of entry permits for Palestinians may amount to collective punishment.

Hussein’s spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said that Israel had an “obligation” to bring those responsible to account, but said some measures punish “thousands of innocent Palestinians” and could constitute “collective punishment.”

The revoking of permits “will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time,” she told a news briefing.

Israel’s mission to the United Nations said in an email sent to Agence France that it would issue a statement to respond to the High Commissioner’s remarks.

Israel on Friday temporarily barred Palestinians from entering the country.

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

She said the closure would remain in force until midnight on Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Thursday and announced a slew of measures against Palestinians after Wednesday’s shooting in a popular Tel Aviv nightspot that killed four people, 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.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault expressed concern that the Israeli measures risked “fueling tensions.”

The number of worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan dropped to around 120,000, down from 250,000 the year before as a result of the Israeli measures.