IDF to shutter West Bank, Gaza crossings to Palestinians for Purim holiday
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IDF to shutter West Bank, Gaza crossings to Palestinians for Purim holiday

From midnight Wednesday to midnight Sunday, only those granted humanitarian-related exceptions will be permitted to enter Israel, as is customary during festivals throughout year

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative. Israeli security forces guard at the Qalandiya Checkpoint near Ramallah, on July 26, 2016. (Flash90)
Illustrative. Israeli security forces guard at the Qalandiya Checkpoint near Ramallah, on July 26, 2016. (Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday that it will enforce a total shutdown of all crossing points into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a security precaution ahead of Purim, as is standard practice during festivals and holidays.

The closure will last from  12 a.m. Wednesday until  12 a.m. Sunday. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Purim starts Wednesday evening in most of the country, and Thursday evening in Jerusalem.

The closure will affect the tens of thousands of Palestinians who legally work in Israel every day, most of them in construction and maintenance.

However, an IDF spokesman said that Palestinians employees at Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank will still be able to travel to work. Those employed inside settlements will require permission from the relevant IDF regional brigade commander.

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

Soldiers guard Purim celebrants in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Soldiers guard Purim celebrants in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Two years ago during the Purim festival, IDF soldier Elor Azaria shot and killed Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, minutes after Sharif and another man had carried out a stabbing attack on troops in Hebron, and as Sharif lay on the ground disarmed and bleeding, having been shot during the attack.

Azaria was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was released after nine months.

In 1994 on Purim, Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian worshipers in Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs. The extremist doctor mowed down the Muslim worshipers and wounded 125 others with automatic gunfire. Goldstein was overcome and bludgeoned to death by bystanders.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is generally a festive, carnival-esque occasion, celebrated with costumes, parades and street parties in cities around Israel.

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