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Israeli forces blockade 2 West Bank villages after string of attacks

March 8, 2016 9:50 P.M. (Updated: March 9, 2016 1:22 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces blockaded the villages of al-Hajja and al-Zawiya following several Palestinian attacks on Tuesday evening, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an.

The spokesperson said the two villages were closed "in accordance with a situation assessment" for an undetermined amount of time.

The villages are closed to all traffic, "with the exception of humanitarian cases," the spokesperson said.

Al-Hajja village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya was blockaded after a Palestinian from the village, identified as 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, stabbed and killed one American tourist and injured nine other Israelis in the northern Israeli coastal city of Jaffa. Masalha was shot dead at the scene.

An hour earlier, a Palestinian identified as Abd Al-Rahman Radad, 17 and from al-Zawiya village in the occupied West Bank district of Salfit, was shot dead in near Petah Tikva, around seven miles east of Tel Aviv, after he stabbed and injured one Israeli man.

The Israeli was reportedly in light to moderate condition. However, the exact circumstances of the incident remained unclear, with early reports suggesting it was a brawl between the Israeli and Palestinian as opposed to an attack.

In between the two deadly incidents, another Palestinian was shot dead after shooting and injuring two Israeli police officers in occupied East Jerusalem, one of whom was in severe condition.

An Israeli army spokesperson could not identify the Palestinian or the area of which he was from. It was not clear why only two of the three alleged attackers' hometowns had been blockaded.

The Israeli military has frequently sealed villages and cities in areas around an attack or near the hometown of an attacker since an increase of such attacks sparked in October.

Locals have also reported closures following clashes between residents and Israeli forces, as well as arbitrary closure to prevent Palestinians from roads used by Israelis and settlers.

Most notably, increased military presence spread across the Hebron district following the wave of unrest that spiraled in October, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reporting higher restrictions in the district than any other area across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli military checkpoints have been set up at the entrances to many Hebron-district villages, and residents have reported harassment, arbitrary detentions, an increase in traffic, and curfews.
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