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IDF to shutter West Bank, Gaza crossings for Palestinians on first day of Passover

Military says officials will reconvene Saturday night to decide whether to maintain closure for entire holiday, following several recent deadly terror attacks

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

A picture shows the Israeli Jalameh checkpoint in the northern West Bank, on April 8, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
A picture shows the Israeli Jalameh checkpoint in the northern West Bank, on April 8, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday announced the closure of crossings with the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the first day of the Passover holiday.

The closure will begin Friday at 4 p.m. and remain in effect until just after midnight on Saturday, April 16. Passover begins on Friday evening and ends a week later.

Security officials will convene Saturday evening to decide whether to extend the closure for the entire Jewish festival.

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. 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, security forces ramped up operations as 14 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, with numerous Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The closure will begin after Friday afternoon prayers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when large numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank are expected to worship at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Attendance is limited to women, children and men over 50, as per Defense Ministry orders issued earlier this month.

The Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest in Judaism, is a frequent flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Earlier Thursday, Gaza’s Hamas rulers warned against “Zionist threats” to the Temple Mount and together with other terror factions in the coastal enclave issued a unified call for an escalation against Israel.

The Hamas leader in the Strip also called for “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians to pray at Al-Aqsa.

According to Channel 12 news, Palestinian social media content was rife with inflammatory calls to defend the holy site.

The IDF also announced Thursday that the border crossing in the northern West Bank — which was closed due to the recent attacks committed by terrorists from the area — would reopen on Saturday, pending final approval.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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