IDF soldiers at a temporary checkpoint in the West Bank [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For the first time in more than a decade, the IDF on Monday placed a partial daylong blockade around the large West Bank city of Ramallah.
Its residents could enter the city, but not exit; while non-residents could leave, but not enter. Exemptions were made for humanitarian cases.
Senior Palestinian officials could enter and leave by permission of the Civil Administration’s local coordination branch. East Jerusalem Palestinians working in Ramallah who have Israeli residency could enter and leave freely.
The IDF’s Central Command imposed the closure after security consultation. It had received concrete alerts about future attacks originating from Ramallah, security sources told The Jerusalem Post.
The move came one day after a Palestinian Authority police officer shot and wounded three soldiers at an IDF checkpoint just outside Ramallah, before being killed by troops.
The incident was seen as a serous escalation from the lone-wolf attacks that have often involved teenagers armed with knives.
Palestinians strongly condemned the “siege” of Ramallah, calling it a form of collective punishment. Many residents expressed anger over the closure of the city, complaining that the restrictions imposed by the IDF were causing huge damage to the economy and preventing employees from reaching work and children from going to school.
Hundreds of Palestinian Authority employees from different parts of the West Bank were unable to report to work in Ramallah in the past 24 hours, residents said. Many students living outside Ramallah were also unable to reach their schools inside the city.
Many Palestinians took to social media to voice their discontent with the closure, while others used the opportunity to make sarcastic remarks and jokes about the “siege.”
Some Palestinians also took to Facebook and Twitter to offer advice how to use alternative routes to avoid IDF checkpoints surrounding Ramallah.
Journalist Iyad al-Refaie complained that the closure was affecting a large portion of the Palestinian population.
“The Ramallah and al-Bireh district have the largest number of private companies and government institutions,” he noted.
Many Palestinians drew parallels with the situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade nearly 10 years. “Gaza and Ramallah are sisters in blood,” tweeted Jassem Shawa from Gaza City.
“We are brothers in the siege.
From the Gaza Strip, we call for lifting the siege imposed on the State of Ramallah.”
Nibal Qundos wrote on Twitter: “We are a people capable of turning everything into a joke.”
Ayman Ayman tweeted sarcastically: “The Ramallah siege has paralyzed the manufacturing of rockets and slowed down the digging of tunnels.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.