A week-long closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will begin Monday ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the army has announced.
All crossings to the West Bank and Gaza will be closed to Palestinians beginning Monday at midnight until Monday April 17, “with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases” made with the approval of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF said.
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, routinely imposing closure on the West Bank as there is often an uptick in tensions and violence. Several terror attacks have occurred on Passover, including during the Second Intifada when in 2002 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 injured 64 others.
Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman warned the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in late March that that the current calm in violence is “deceiving and that that Hamas and other organized terror cells will try to carry out attacks over the Passover holiday.
“The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceiving, 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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