IDF says will only impose full West Bank, Gaza closure on 1st, last days of Sukkot
Military says crossing will stay open during intermediate days of the festival, despite rising violence
The Israel Defense Forces will not impose a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza during the intermediate days of Sukkot, it was announced Friday.
Instead, crossings will only be shut on the first and last days of the week-long festival.
The closure pertains to Palestinians and does not affect Israelis.
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.
The IDF said the crossings will be shut from 4:00 p.m. on Sunday until Monday at 11:59 p.m., in accordance with guidance from the political establishment.
On the holiday of Simchat Torah, there will be a closure “subject to a situation assessment,” the IDF said. The closure is expected to begin on October 16 at 4:00 p.m. and end on October 17 at 11:59 p.m.
The announcement came during a months-long period of raised tensions in the West Bank.
Two Palestinian teens were killed in clashes with the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
A 15-year-old Palestinian was shot dead during clashes that broke out during a weekly northern West Bank protest against the expropriation of land for Israeli settlements.
The IDF said its troops opened fire after the boy hurled a Molotov cocktail at troops stationed near the West Bank security fence surrounding the Palestinian town of Qalqilya. The teen was later identified as Adel Daoud.
Palestinians from the nearby town of Kafr Qaddum have for years been holding near-weekly protests against Israel’s expropriation of land that had historically belonged to their town, but has since become part of the borders of the nearby settlement of Kedumim.
Israel often cites security concerns in justifying such moves, saying they help separate Israeli and Palestinian populations in the West Bank, while Palestinians say it is part of a policy to slowly eat away at their land and harm farmers who rely on the agricultural lands in order to make a living.
In a second incident, 17-year-old Mahdi Ladadweh, was reported shot and killed during clashes in a village northwest of Ramallah. The army had no immediate comment on the incident.
Palestinian media quoted residents saying that the clashes with Israeli security forces erupted as dozens of Palestinians in Al Mazraa al-Gharbiya came out to protest incursions and attacks on the village by Israeli settlers.
Hours earlier, the IDF announced the arrest of a Palestinian suspected of attempting to carry out a pair of attacks in the territory, including placing an explosive device at a gas station.
The IDF and police have been on heightened alert since last week amid the Jewish holiday season, with tensions already high due to an Israeli anti-terror offensive that has seen over 100 Palestinians killed and more than 2,000 arrested in nightly raids in the West Bank.
The military launched the arrest operations after a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.
Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank. During an operation in May, a police commando was killed as troops were wrapping up an arrest operation in the Jenin area. Last month, a senior IDF officer was killed in a gun battle with Palestinians on the northern West Bank security barrier.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.