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Israel implements closure on West Bank, Gaza after Tel Aviv attack

June 10, 2016 9:37 A.M. (Updated: June 10, 2016 7:10 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers man a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 15, 2014. (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities implemented a large-scale closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday, adding to a long line of punitive measures that have been carried out since Wednesday’s deadly attack in Tel Aviv.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that all passages to the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip would be sealed until Monday at midnight after an army “situation assessment,” with the exception of humanitarian and medical cases.

However, the spokesperson said Palestinians from the West Bank with permits to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem would be allowed passage for the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The sealing of the West Bank and Gaza is one of several punitive orders which have been implemented by the Israeli government following an attack in Tel Aviv which left four Israelis killed and another six wounded.

The measure comes just one day after Israel’s decision to freeze more than 83,000 permits allowing Palestinians to enter Israel and East Jerusalem during Ramadan, including freezing the work permits of 204 of the suspected attackers’ relatives who work in Israel.

Israeli authorities additionally froze all coordination with the besieged Gaza Strip for Ramadan, cancelling weekly visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued an order on Thursday to suspend the return of all Palestinian bodies killed during suspected attacks on Israelis.

Meanwhile, a large-scale raid was carried out in the alleged attackers’ hometown of Yatta in the West Bank district of Hebron in the early morning hours on Thursday, as Israeli forces detained an unspecified number of people.

The town has been completely sealed by Israeli forces, with no Palestinians allowed to leave except for humanitarian or medical cases.

Israeli forces deployed two additional Israeli army battalions to the West Bank on Thursday, consisting of hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s punitive policies against Palestinians are often the target of condemnation among rights groups around the world, who point out that such punitive measures constitute a form of “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.

More than 200 Palestinians and close to 30 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of a wave of unrest in October in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, which has been mainly characterized by small-scale Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers and military targets.
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