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Israel sets restrictions across Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, arms Israeli 'volunteers'

Oct. 11, 2016 5:38 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 10:14 P.M.)
(File)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces announced on Monday a series of closures and heightened security operations throughout the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the larger Jerusalem district in anticipation of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, according to Israeli police.

Israeli Police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement Monday that Israeli police, border police, and Israeli “volunteers” would be spread through different areas in the city of Jerusalem beginning early Tuesday morning, the beginning of Yom Kippur, to “maintain order and provide protection for Jews expected to arrive to the Western Wall for prayer.”

Al-Samri added that Israeli police provided the volunteers with weapons to “guarantee the safety of the worshipers.”

The Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City was closed to tourists and private cars on Tuesday, only permitting residents of the Old City to enter.

“Israeli police in cooperation with the Jerusalem municipality will install checkpoints at the main roads to prevent cars of Eastern residents from heading to West Jerusalem,” al-Samri said in her statement, referring to preventing the access of any Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem.

“Israeli police will also be stationed at neighborhoods to prevent any rock throwing.”

“Israeli police also calls upon the public to contact the police for emergencies and if they suspect someone or something,” the statement concluded.

In a separate statement, Israeli police said it would be imposing a “complete closure” on the West Bank ahead of Yom Kippur, meaning all border crossings between the West Bank and Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, and Israel and the Gaza Strip would be closed.

The statement added that the closure started Monday at midnight and would go on until midnight Wednesday, and that Israeli authorities would only allow medical crews, doctors and urgent humanitarian cases to pass, so as long as they had an authorization from the Israeli government.

The extensive closures and intensified security announcements came in the wake of a deadly shooting in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Sunday morning, that left the Palestinian attacker and two Israelis dead.

Following the attack, Israeli forces carried out a massive detention campaign across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, detaining at least 56 Palestinians in overnight raids, with more than two thirds of the detainees coming from the Jerusalem area.

Israeli authorities have come under repeated criticism for carrying out large scale detention raids, limiting the freedom of mobility of Palestinians, and punitive home demolitions -- what many human rights organizations have called “collective punishment” -- in response to such attacks.

Their actions have been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “court-sanctioned revenge,” and represent a clear violation of international law.

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