IDF troops ordered not to eat near Palestinians

Soldiers instructed not to eat, smoke cigarettes at West Bank checkpoints over Ramadan.

jericho checkpoint 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
jericho checkpoint 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
The IDF eased restrictions on the West Bank over the weekend in a gesture to the Palestinians for the beginning of Ramadan. Soldiers were instructed to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking - all forbidden for observant Muslims - in front of Palestinians at West Bank checkpoints. Throughout the month, the IDF will extend its hours of operations at central checkpoints near Jenin and Ramallah to enable Palestinians to travel freely throughout the West Bank for festive meals at the end of each fast day. Israeli Arabs will also be allowed into Jenin through the Salem Checkpoint every morning between 9 and 11 a.m. Israeli Arabs will also be allowed to travel to Bethlehem to visit relatives. Palestinian men over the age of 50 and women over 45 will be allowed into the Temple Mount for Friday prayers. Civil administration officials met last week with Palestinian representatives of the Wakf to coordinate prayer services and travel arrangements. The civil administration handed out special brochures to soldiers who operate in the West Bank to explain the sensitivities of the holy month. Ahead of Id al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the IDF is considering lifting over 100 dirt roadblocks throughout the West Bank. The package has been approved by civil administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai and is being considered by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni. Once approved by the IDF, it would be brought to the cabinet for final authorization. Over the past two years, Israel has removed more than 100 unmanned dirt roadblocks and an additional 27 manned checkpoints, including those at the entrances to major cities such as Jericho, Jenin and Nablus.