IDF to close off West Bank from Israel for Palestinians at start and end of Passover
Closure is standard practice during Israeli festivals and holidays, which are seen as periods of increased tensions; Palestinians still to be allowed in for Friday Ramadan prayers
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday announced it was imposing a closure on the West Bank, with crossing points closed to Palestinians, on the first and last days of the upcoming Passover holiday. Gaza border crossings will also close.
The closure is set to begin on Wednesday, April 5 at 5 p.m. and last until Saturday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m. A second closure will begin on April 11 at 5 p.m. and last until April 12 at 11:59 p.m.
On Friday, April 7, some border crossings would reopen to allow Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque after the IDF eased entry restrictions for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
The IDF said border crossings for Palestinians would reopen “subject to a situational assessment.”
Other 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 (COGAT).
Such closures are standard practice during festivals and holidays. The military says they are a preventative measure against attacks in periods of increased tension.
Tensions have spiked in the region over the past year as Israeli forces have ratcheted up arrest raids and other counterterror efforts in the West Bank following a series of terror attacks.
Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 15 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.
At least 86 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.
There has also been a rise in settler violence toward Palestinians in recent months.