IDF places barrier near Rachel’s Tomb in West Bank
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IDF places barrier near Rachel’s Tomb in West Bank

Move comes ahead of massive Jewish pilgrimage to holy site; similar concrete blocks placed in East Jerusalem

Illustrative: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man stands by the intersection at the entrance to the Jewish religious site of Rachel's Tomb, surrounded by the Separation Wall, near Bethlehem, on June 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man stands by the intersection at the entrance to the Jewish religious site of Rachel's Tomb, surrounded by the Separation Wall, near Bethlehem, on June 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers on Thursday placed a concrete barrier near a Jewish holy site in the West Bank, ahead of a religious pilgrimage there this weekend.

A crane lowered the concrete blocks onto a street in the city of Bethlehem outside Rachel’s Tomb. Israel’s security barrier stands between Bethlehem and the holy site.

Thousands are expected to visit the tomb on Saturday night, when the yahrzeit (the anniversary of a death) of the biblical-era matriarch Rachel is traditionally marked. Police say hundreds of officers will be deployed around the area for the event.

According to an Israeli report, private cars will not be able to enter the site on Saturday and Sunday, during the pilgrimage.

Last week, police began sealing off some Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem amid a sharp surge in stabbings attacks in the capital and the West Bank.

Police forces also erected a concrete barrier between the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem and the adjacent Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv.

The barrier is intended “to prevent the throwing of firebombs at the houses on Meir Nakar Street [in Armon Hanatziv] and to prevent the loss of life. It means nothing more,” a police spokeswoman told The Times of Israel.

The majority of knife-wielding Palestinian attackers in recent weeks have been residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, with at least five from Jabel Mukaber.

Last Tuesday, Armon Hanatziv was the scene of a deadly attack which saw two Palestinians board a bus in the neighborhood and launch a stabbing and shooting spree. Two Israelis were killed in the attack.

On Saturday, a Palestinian teenager was killed in Armon Hanatziv when he tried to stab Border Police officers who stopped him for questioning.

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