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Analysis

Army imposes partial closure on Ramallah after attacks

Measure follows Sunday’s shooting by a member of the Palestinian security forces, will remain in effect until further notice

Israeli soldiers inspect a Palestinian car at a checkpoint close to the West Bank village of Beit Furik, east of Nablus, on October 2, 2015, after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli couple the night before. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Israeli soldiers inspect a Palestinian car at a checkpoint close to the West Bank village of Beit Furik, east of Nablus, on October 2, 2015, after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli couple the night before. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israel on Monday was blocking entry for non-residents to the West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, after a shooting attack the previous day that wounded three soldiers, the army said.

“In accordance with situation assessments following yesterday’s shooting attack in Beit El, security measures have been taken in the area and only residents of Ramallah are allowed to enter the city,” a military spokeswoman said.

The entry ban applied to foreigners as well, she said.

The spokeswoman said the prohibition would be lifted in accordance with security assessments.

The entry ban was also announced Sunday night by an officer of the Palestinian Military Liaison, who told the independent Ma’an news agency of the measure. “All those whose permanent addresses are not within the Ramallah-El-Bireh governorate will be denied entry until further notice,” he said.

Illustrative photo of a bustling Manara Square, one of the main streets in downtown Ramallah. (Photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a bustling Manara Square, one of the main streets in downtown Ramallah. (Photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90)

Nevertheless, several foreigners and locals who traveled to Ramallah for work on Monday reported nothing out of the ordinary on their way into the city.

“We heard the news last night, so everyone was surprised this morning when we found no extra checkpoints. People came into the office today from many places in the West Bank outside of Ramallah without any problems, as well as from Jerusalem. There was some heavy traffic last night, however,” one source told The Times of Israel.

Other Palestinian sources said that the IDF was applying different standards at various checkpoints, in some letting through only Ramallah residents and at others preventing denizens of the city from exiting while letting non-residents in. A series of new checkpoints were also set up in the western exits of the city, they said, although there appeared to be no change in the policy at the Qalandiya crossing.

An undated photo of Amjad Sakari, a member of the Palestinian Authority said to have carried out a shooting attack in the West Bank on Sunday, January 31, 2016 (screen capture: Twitter)
An undated photo of Amjad Sakari, a member of the Palestinian Authority said to have carried out a shooting attack in the West Bank on Sunday, January 31, 2016 (screen capture: Twitter)

On Sunday, a Palestinian man who worked as a guard for the attorney general’s office in Ramallah opened fire at a checkpoint just outside the city near the West Bank Israeli settlement of Beit El, wounding three Israeli soldiers before being shot dead.

He was named as Amjad Sakari, 35, and was a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces.

The same checkpoint, regularly used by diplomats, journalists and humanitarian workers, was closed on Monday morning, as were other entrances in the area.

Vehicles were being allowed to enter through at least one road after being searched, with a long line of cars waiting to pass through.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack at a checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the West Bank on Sunday, January 31, 2016 (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack at a checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the West Bank on Sunday, January 31, 2016 (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)

A large number of Palestinians, aid workers and diplomats commute to Ramallah for work on a daily basis.

A wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks erupted in October. Most of the attacks have been stabbings, although there have also been occasional shootings.

The violence has killed 25 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.

At the same time, some 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.

AFP contributed to this report.

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