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IDF to close West Bank, Gaza crossings for Memorial and Independence days

Border crossings for Palestinians to reopen ‘subject to a situational assessment’; exceptions to be made for humanitarian cases

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

Israeli security forces guard as Palestinians make their way through an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on April 22, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Israeli security forces guard as Palestinians make their way through an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on April 22, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced the closure of crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The closure will begin Tuesday at 3 p.m., and last until midnight between Thursday and Friday, May 6.

The IDF said the border crossings for Palestinians would reopen “subject to a situational assessment.”

Exceptions 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, in what the military says is a preventive measure against attacks at those times, which are seen as periods of increased tension.

A closure was imposed during the first and last days of Passover in late April but was not extended over the entire week-long holiday.

During the holiday of Purim in March the military skipped it altogether for the first time in five years. Since then, however, security forces ramped up operations as 16 people have been killed in a series of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israelis and Palestinians.

Troops have been carrying out extensive raids in the West Bank in response to the attacks, and at least 26 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

Israeli soldiers place Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Memorial Day formally begins at 8 p.m. on Tuesday with a siren sounding across the nation. Commemorations continue throughout the next day — another siren is sounded at 11 a.m. — until Israelis make the dramatic shift from mourning to jubilation on Wednesday night as the country launches its Independence Day celebrations.

The closure of the border crossings will affect some 130,000 Palestinians from the West Bank who legally work in Israel and Israeli settlements every day, most of them in construction and maintenance. Another 12,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip also have permits to work in Israel.

The Yesh Din rights group slammed the closure, branding it as “collective punishment” on Palestinians.

Israeli citizens will still be permitted to move between the West Bank and Israel.

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