UN says closing Israeli border for 83,000 Palestinians may amount to ‘collective punishment’

© Baz Ratner

Revoking entry permits for 83,000 Palestinians attempting to enter Israel in response to a recent Tel Aviv terror attack may amount to collective punishment, and could be regarded as a grave violation of international law, the UN human rights body said.

“We are also deeply concerned at the response of the Israeli authorities, which 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,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in astatement on Friday.

On Thursday, the Israeli army canceled permits for 83,000 Palestinians to visit Israel and announced it would deploy hundreds of troops to the occupied West Bank, a day after a deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv took place, leaving four Israelis dead and six injured.

Israel’s retaliatory actions also included the suspension of 204 work permits held by individuals in the extended families of two alleged attackers, with Israeli security forces sealing off their entire hometown.

“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 – maybe hundreds – of thousands of innocent Palestinians,”
 the statement added.

The Geneva Conventions which apply to situations of armed conflict and military occupation say that punishing people en masse they have not personally committed falls within the term of collective punishment, generally regarded as one of the most blatant breaches of international law.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said in its own statement that the comment by UN human rights body“breaks a new record of cynicism and double standards.”

“The OHCHR is using the murder of innocent Israelis to attack Israel. Once again, instead of putting itself by the side of the Israeli victims, it settles for a forced, weak condemnation and rushes to defend the terrorists.”

The OHCHR should take another look “at the current situation in the Middle East, so it may understand the absurdity of its own statement,” said the Israeli diplomatic mission.

However, some 10,000 Palestinians can still go to Israel, according to a spokeswoman for COGAT, the Israel’s Defense Ministry unit in charge of affairs in the West Bank. They will enter for Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque and will have to come back home afterwards, she added.

It is not the first time Israel introduces restrictions on Palestinian territories. Nearly two weeks ago, a newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered that the bodies of Palestinians killed during attacks would no longer be returned to their families for burial.

The latest attack in Tel Aviv and Israel’s retaliatory measures add to continuing violence between Israeli and Palestinians that has killed at least 207 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and several foreigners since last October.

(Source / 11.06.2016)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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