Israel shuts West Bank, Gaza for Jewish holiday

Israel shuts West Bank, Gaza for Jewish holiday

JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
Israel shuts West Bank, Gaza for Jewish holiday

AFP Photo

Israeli authorities have barred Palestinians from entering the country from the occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip ahead of the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday that begins on the evening of Oct. 11, the army said.

Such closures are often put in place for major Jewish holidays, but Israeli security forces are on especially high alert following a Palestinian gun attack in Jerusalem on Oct. 9 that killed two people.

The attacker, Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was reportedly scheduled to begin a prison term on the same day, was killed by police after he fled into an east Jerusalem neighborhood.

Thousands of Jews visit the Western Wall in east Jerusalem’s Old City during Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, which ends on the evening of Oct. 12.

The closure, in place on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12, applies only to Palestinians and not the roughly 400,000 Israeli settlers who live in the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip is always under an Israeli blockade, though some crossings are usually allowed for work or medical purposes.

Humanitarian and urgent medical cases will be allowed through during the holidays despite the closure, the army said.

More than 3,000 police are being deployed in Jerusalem for the holiday.

As part of the precautions taken before Yom Kippur, Israeli authorities arrested dozens of Palestinians, police said.

The arrests included 31 Palestinians seeking to participate in celebrations in memory of the assailant of the Oct. 9 attack, as well as members of his family in east Jerusalem, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told army radio.