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GROUP WANTS BAN ON ARABS LEAVING GAZA LIFTED

A Palestinian human rights group Friday urged the army to lift its order barring Arabs from leaving the occupied Gaza Strip, saying such restrictions amount to a collective punishment.

Meanwhile, four Palestinian deaths were reported in the West Bank and Gaza, including a 19-year-old killed when troops opened fire after a firebomb was thrown at their jeep, the army said. Arab reports said the victim was shot in the head.Two other victims who died Friday were wounded earlier this week in clashes with soldiers, and the fourth man was killed in the Rafah refugee camp by fellow Arabs as a suspected collaborator with Israel.

The human rights group, Al Haq-Law in the Service of Man, called the army travel ban "a clear violation of international law because it is a collective punishment that affects more than 700,000 people and, as such, is completely unjustified."

The army imposed the order Thursday, barring Gaza Palestinians from entering Israel for an indefinite period. It said the aim was to "reduce friction between residents of Gaza and Israel."

The order was in response to a stabbing attack Tuesday in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian from Gaza. Two Israelis were killed and 20 were wounded.

The ban affects 50,000 Palestinians from the coastal strip who work in Israel. It also affects thousands who go to Jerusalem to pray during Muslim holy month of Ramadan, now in its third week.