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Israel imposes 'general closure' on Palestinian territory for Jewish holiday

Oct. 2, 2016 10:35 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2016 6:40 P.M.)
Palestinians walk through the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip as they cross into Gaza, on June 09, 2010. (Mahmud Hams-AFP-Getty Images)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities announced Saturday evening that a general closure would be imposed on all passage between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel, over the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the closures began one minute after midnight on Sunday Oct. 2, and are to last until one minute before midnight on Tuesday Oct. 4.

During the closure, only humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases will be allowed to cross, pending approval from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, al-Samri added.

The closures come after Israeli authorities also canceled Friday's weekly visit for Gazan worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem due to the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres being held that day in Jerusalem.

Visitations of elderly Palestinians from Gaza were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visits have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.

The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

Meanwhile, debilitating poverty and lack of employment drive many workers in the occupied West Bank to enter Israel in search of work. Israel's imposition of closures on the Palestinian territory has severely affected the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who depend on entering Israel, or its illegal settlements, for employment opportunities.

The number of Palestinians, both documented and undocumented, employed in Israel and its illegal settlements for the second quarter of 2016 was 114,200, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

The average unemployment rate for the Palestinian territory was 26.9 percent for this same period: 18.3 percent in the West Bank and a staggering 41.7 percent in Gaza. The poor state of the Palestinian territory's economy has been attributed to the decades-long Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the nearly nine year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip which has continued to undermine any economic developments.
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