IDF to impose week-long closure of West Bank, Gaza ahead of Passover holiday

It is unclear how the closure will affect Palestinian Christians who celebrate Easter, which coincides with the last days of Passover.

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April 9, 2017 11:48
1 minute read.
IDF soldiers stand guard during a demonstration by Palestinians

IDF soldiers stand guard during a demonstration by Palestinians against the closure of the main road in Jabaa area south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A weeklong closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will begin Monday ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the army has announced.

All crossing will be closed to Palestinians beginning Monday at midnight until April 17, “with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases” with the approval of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the IDF said.

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The announcement came shortly after 21-year-old Palestinian Malek Ahmad Mousa Hamed from Silwad rammed his car into two Israeli soldiers at a West Bank bus stop at the Ofra junction, killing 20-year-old Sgt. Elhai Teharlev and lightly wounding another.

Security forces regularly step up their preparedness prior to the holidays, including imposing a closure on the West Bank and Gaza as there is often an uptick in tensions and violence. Several terrorist attacks have occurred on Passover, including in 2002 during the second intifada, when Hamas operative Abd El-Basset Oudeh carried out a suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya during a Passover Seder, killing 29 people and injuring 64 others.

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in late March that the current calm is “deceptive, and that Hamas and other organized terrorist cells will try to carry out attacks over the Passover holiday.

“The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceptive, it’s misleading and deluding because Hamas and global jihadi infrastructure are working every day in attempting to conduct terrorist attacks in Israeli territory,” he said, adding that “our goal is to ensure that the holidays are as quiet as possible.”

It is unclear how the closure will affect Palestinian Christians who celebrate Easter, which coincides with the final days of Passover.

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