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IDF announces closures on West Bank, Gaza crossings during upcoming holidays

Defense minister says over 1,000 terror operatives arrested or shot in recent months, amid uptick in violence in Palestinian cities

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

File: Israeli soldiers block the entrance to the Jalamah checkpoint near the West Bank city of Jenin, September 14, 2022.(David Cohen/Flash90)
File: Israeli soldiers block the entrance to the Jalamah checkpoint near the West Bank city of Jenin, September 14, 2022.(David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced the closure of crossings with the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the upcoming Jewish holidays.

Closures for Rosh Hashanah will begin Sunday, September 25 at 4 p.m. and last until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27.

On Yom Kippur, closures will begin October 4 at 12:01 a.m. and last until 11:59 p.m. on October 5.

During Sukkot, closures will begin October 9 at 4 p.m. and last until 11:59 p.m. on October 10, as well as between October 16 at 4 p.m. and October 17 at 11:59 p.m.

Security officials are to convene to decide whether to extend the closure for the entirety of Sukkot, October 9-17.

In all cases, the Israel Defense Forces said the planned reopening of border crossings would be “subject to a situational assessment.”

Exceptions to the closures will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s liaison to the Palestinians, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Such closures are standard practice during festivals and holidays. The military says they are a preventative measure against attacks in periods of increased tension. But during the holiday of Purim in March, the military skipped the usual closure for the first time in five years.

Since then, however, tensions have spiked as Israeli forces have ratcheted up arrest raids and other counterterror efforts that Palestinians say inflame anger.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 20, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops have also repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of this year, according to the Shin Bet security service.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Israeli troops have arrested and shot more than 1,000 Palestinians engaged in terror activity in recent months, as the military pressed on with the ongoing operation.

“In the last few months we have arrested and hit more than a thousand terrorists,” Gantz said after touring the military’s West Bank division base.

“We are acting decisively and correctly against terror, to allow those who are not involved to have a life of economic and civil well-being,” he said. “The perpetrators of terror are the ones who harm the Palestinian population, their livelihood, and the ability to advance their interests.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issues a statement at the Israel Defense Forces Judea and Samaria Division base in the West Bank, September 20, 2022. (Nicole Laskavi/Defense Ministry)

Many of the IDF’s arrests in recent months have concentrated on Nablus and Jenin in the northern West Bank, where a number of the terrorists who committed the attacks earlier this year hailed from.

Israeli security officials have warned in recent months that the Palestinian Authority is losing control of the northern West Bank.

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