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US calls on Israel not to punish innocent Palestinians

The US State Department has urged Israel to tone down its punishment of Palestinians in the wake of a Wednesday attack in the occupied territories.

On Wednesday night, at least four Israelis were killed and several others injured during a shooting attack at a shopping center in Tel Aviv.

Initial reports said the attackers were dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews, but police later claimed they were of Palestinian origin.

Now the US wants Israel to check its punishment of Palestinians, with State Department spokesman Mark Toner telling a news briefing on Thursday that “we strongly support that right, but we would hope that any measures it (Israel) takes are designed to also take into consideration the impact on Palestinian citizens that are trying to go about their daily lives,”

In the wake of the Wednesday attack, the Israeli military suspended 83,000 entry permits for Palestinians during the fasting month of Ramadan and canceled its easing of security measures for the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians are particularly barred from visiting Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount in al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Tensions have mounted in the occupied territories amid a stepped-up expansion of settlement construction by Israel and frequent raids on sensitive worship sites of the Palestinians by Israeli extremists.

At least 213 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in what is regarded as the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising) since the beginning of last October.

The spark for the uprising came in August last year when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into the al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds.

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