IDF imposes new restrictions on West Bank Palestinians as attacks persist
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IDF imposes new restrictions on West Bank Palestinians as attacks persist

Young Hebron male residents to be distanced from Jewish settlement; army said set to separate Jews, Palestinians at Gush Etzion Junction

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative photo of the Tzalbanit checkpoint near the West Bank city of Hebron, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. (Israel Police)
Illustrative photo of the Tzalbanit checkpoint near the West Bank city of Hebron, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. (Israel Police)

The army began implementing a series of dramatic new measures on Thursday to separate the Jewish and Palestinians populations in the West Bank in an attempt to curb the stabbing attacks that have plagued the area in recent weeks, an IDF official said.

Hebron and the Etzion Bloc have seen nearly daily attacks against civilians and security forces in the past week. In response, the Israel Defense Forces said that it would not allow Palestinian males between the ages of 15 and 25 to pass through Hebron’s Jewish settlement, except those that live in the surrounding area, who will be forced to undergo a thorough security check.

Meanwhile, an Etzion Bloc council leader said soldiers would separate Palestinian and Jewish residents at the Gush Etzion Junction, which has been the site of multiple terror attacks.

“In Hebron, since October 1, a total of 13 stabbing attacks or foiled attempts were carried out by Palestinians against civilians and security forces,” an IDF spokeswoman told The Times of Israel.

In nearly every one of these cases, the Palestinian attackers were shot dead by forces on the scene.

Israeli security forces carry the body of a Palestinian man who stabbed and wounded an IDF soldier before being shot dead by a Border Police officer in Hebron on October 29, 2015. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)
Israeli security forces carry the body of a Palestinian man who stabbed and wounded an IDF soldier before being shot dead by a Border Police officer in Hebron on October 29, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

“In light of this reality, beginning on the morning of October 29, in accordance with a security assessment, several precautionary measures were taken in order to prevent potential attacks in the future and maintain the safety and well-being of Israelis,” she said.

In addition to the age restriction for passing through the Hebron Jewish settlement, the IDF will close off all the Palestinian parking lots in the area until further notice.

The Etzion Bloc, a cluster of Jewish settlements south of Jerusalem, has also seen a spate of stabbing attacks. On Wednesday, a Jewish woman was stabbed in the back outside a supermarket near the Gush Etzion Junction.

The head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Perl, met with the local IDF brigade commander to develop new strategies to prevent future attacks, the council announced in an email to residents on Thursday evening.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl, October 6, 2014 (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl, October 6, 2014 (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

“We decided upon a meaningful change in the defense approach for the area surrounding the Gush Etzion Junction,” Perl wrote in the email.

“In the area around the bloc’s junction, soldiers will keep Palestinians from being in contact with the Jewish population to the extent that they can,” he said.

“Additional troops will reinforce the area and will carry out thorough searches. All of these decisions were made with the full support of the [West Bank] division commander and the [Central] Command general, who are in constant contact with me,” Perl said.

The IDF did not respond to requests for verification of Perl’s assertions or further information about the army’s plans for the Etzion Bloc.

“In the past two weeks we have experienced, almost every day, a series of serious terror attacks in the Etzion Bloc. To our dismay, according to our intelligence assessment there is no end in sight and we do not identify a decrease in the terrorists’ motivation to attack,” Perl said.

An ambulance is seen on a road in the West Bank where a man was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist on Sunday, October 25, 2015. (Magen David Adom)
An ambulance is seen on a road in the West Bank where a man was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist on October 25, 2015. (Courtesy of Magen David Adom)

In addition to the woman moderately wounded on Wednesday, a soldier was moderately wounded when two Palestinian men attacked him with knives, cutting his face, on Tuesday evening at a bus stop at the Gush Etzion Junction. On Sunday, an Israeli civilian was stabbed when he exited his vehicle after rocks had been thrown at it near the Metzad settlement.

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