IDF announces closure of Judea, Samaria for Yom Kippur

Clashes erupt day before Yom Kippur between security forces, settlers; Arab and Jewish-owned olive trees destroyed in West Bank violence.

roadblock check point 521 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
roadblock check point 521
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The IDF Spokesman's Office announced on behalf of Defense Minister Ehud Barak a general closure in Judea and Samaria to begin Thursday, the night before Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement].  
According to the statement, passage to and from the West Bank will be allowed only for humanitarian and medical purposes, and all exceptions will require approval from the Civil Administration.
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The security presence in Jerusalem was also beefed up on Friday in preparation for Yom Kippur.
On Thursday, Arab olive trees were chopped down and Jewish ones were burned in the West Bank following clashes early in the morning between settlers and the army.
Although there is no concrete proof connecting the incidents, it is widely assumed they were linked by a chain of events that occurred in the Nablus area after the IDF beefed up its presence to secure the monthly visit of Jewish worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb, which is located in the city.
Settlers who noted the enlarged IDF presence became concerned the soldiers would move against the fledgling Givat Gal Yosef outpost, located near the Shiloh settlement, south of Nablus.
They immediately sent out phone text messages asking activists to gather to protect the outpost. Activists blocked a road with stones in an effort to prevent soldiers from reaching Givat Gal Yosef.
A clash ensued between activists and soldiers in which there was pushing and shoving.
The IDF said one of the activists punched a soldier in the face. No one was detained.
Palestinian farmers from Kusra said almost 200 olive and fig trees had been uprooted or destroyed. The police have since arrested one settler in connection with the incident.
According to B’Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories this is the seventh incident in Kusra related to settlers in the past six weeks that have included trespassing and vandalism, and there had also been an arson attack on a mosque in the village.
In one incident, where the IDF responded to a clash between settlers and Palestinians, a resident of Kusra, Issam Badran was killed.
According to the UN, 900 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed in the West Bank between September 21 and 27.
Settlers said Palestinians had set fire to 120 Jewish olive trees in Park Bar-On on Thursday, near the Kedumim settlement.
An army source said two fires had broken out in that area, the first from natural causes and the second from arson. The source said it was not clear who started the second fire. A police representative was not aware of the incident.
Settlers provided the media with a video showing the flames.
Benny Katzover, who heads the Samaria Citizens Committee, said this kind of “Arab terror” should have lit a warning light among the heads of the security forces.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said that unfortunately, every year there are Arab attacks against Jewish property.
He accused radical left-wing activists of inciting the attacks, and called on the authorities to take them as seriously as they do incidents of vandalism against Palestinians.