Israel seals off West Bank for memorial, independence days
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Israel seals off West Bank for memorial, independence days

IDF announces shutdown just hours before it goes into effect; exceptions to be made for 'humanitarian cases'

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

Illustrative: Border Police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, October 23, 2012 (Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
Illustrative: Border Police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, October 23, 2012 (Oren Nahshon/Flash90)

Israel closed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 48 hours beginning midnight Tuesday-Wednesday, the army announced Tuesday evening.

The closure began at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and is expected to end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, the army said, though the reopening will be subjected to a “situational assessment.”

The closure took effect soon after an Israeli officer was seriously injured by bombs at a West Bank checkpoint, and after two Israeli women in their 80s were stabbed by masked assailants in a terror attack in Jerusalem earlier in the day.

Entering and exiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be forbidden for Palestinians during those two days, with the exception of “humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” according to an IDF statement.

Rescuers at the site of a stabbing attack that left two elderly women moderately wounded, in Armon Hanatziv in southern Jerusalem, May 10, 2016. (Magen David Adom)
Rescuers at the site of a stabbing attack that left two elderly women moderately wounded, in Armon Hanatziv in southern Jerusalem, May 10, 2016. (Magen David Adom)

Those special cases will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Last month, the army imposed a similar shutdown on the West Bank’s checkpoints for Palestinians ahead of the Passover festival, for fear of terror attacks, the army said.

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion next to a West Bank checkpoint outside of the Palestinian village of Hizme, May 10, 2016. (Hadashot ZBM)
Emergency services at the scene of an explosion next to a West Bank checkpoint outside of the Palestinian village of Hizme, May 10, 2016. (Hadashot ZBM)

Though closures of this type are not necessarily used for every holiday, they have become common during the past seven months of heightened security threats.

The closure will affect the thousands of Palestinians who legally work in Israel every day, most of them in construction and maintenance. However, the closure will be in place during a holiday, when most businesses close down anyway.

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