ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Israel shuts northern West Bank crossing after repeated shooting attacks

Palestinian Islamic Jihad takes responsibility for opening fire at Salem base, and at adjacent checkpoint mostly used by Arab Israelis to travel to Jenin area

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

File: Israeli security forces at the entrance of the Salem base near the West Bank town of Jenin, following an attack by Palestinians who opened fire and were killed by Israeli security forces, May 7, 2021. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
File: Israeli security forces at the entrance of the Salem base near the West Bank town of Jenin, following an attack by Palestinians who opened fire and were killed by Israeli security forces, May 7, 2021. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Israel on Thursday evening shuttered the Salem crossing in the northern West Bank following repeated shooting attacks in the area, the military’s liaison to the Palestinians announced.

The crossing is predominantly used by Arab Israelis who travel to the Palestinian city of Jenin and the surrounding area for business or leisure. It had been largely shuttered for civilian traffic in recent years, but was reopened in the summer as part of a series of gestures amid US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a military post near the crossing, without causing any injuries.

A video circulating online purported to show the moment the gunmen opened fire. Sounds of gunfire can be heard in the video.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

COGAT, the Defense Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs said the crossing would remain closed until further notice.

The closure is expected to take an economic toll on the Jenin area.

Security officials are expected to convene on the matter next week and possibly reopen the checkpoint, provided there are no further attacks.

The Salem crossing, close to the Arab Israeli town of the same name, has been the target of numerous shooting attacks in recent weeks.

In recent months. Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

Israeli forces have also ratcheted up arrest raids and counterterror efforts in the West Bank since a spate of terror attacks against Israelis in the spring killed 19 people.

The anti-terror offensive launched earlier this year has netted more than 2,000 arrests during the near-nightly raids in Palestinian cities, towns, and villages.

It has also left 123 Palestinians dead, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

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