Israeli soldiers check cars at a checkpoint near the West Bank City of Jericho.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF has extended the closure of the West Bank and Gaza for the Jewish holiday of Purim for an additional 24 hours, the army said on Sunday.
The closure, which began on Thursday night, will now extend until Monday at midnight after a decision was made by the political leadership following security assessments.
All crossing to the West Bank and Gaza were closed to Palestinians, “with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases” made with the approval of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the territories (COGAT), the IDF said last week.
Purim is celebrated on Sunday in most of Israel while those in Jerusalem observe Purim on Monday. The army usually seals off the West Bank prior to all major Jewish holidays. While closures aren’t usually imposed on Purim, this year is the second year
in a row in which Palestinians were banned from entering Israel.
Holidays, including Purim, have often seen an uptick in tensions and violence. Several terror attacks have occurred during Purim, including a deadly suicide bombing in 1996 which saw a Palestinian suicide bomber blow himself up outside Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center killing 13 Israelis, including five children and wounding 130 more.
In 2015, Israel's Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) broke up a Hamas cell that had planned to carry out a terror attack against Israeli military targets in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem over the Purim holiday.
Last year during the holiday, IDF St.Sgt. Elor Azaria shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian attacker Abdel Fattah al-Sharif following a stabbing attack against IDF soldiers in Hebron.