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Israel extends closure on West Bank and Gaza for Jewish holiday

March 11, 2017 10:42 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 6:17 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an ) -- An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an on Saturday evening that Israeli authorities had decided to extend a lock down on travel in and out of the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip for the Jewish holiday of Purim for another day.

The closure, which was initially announced to begin midnight on Friday and end midnight on Sunday, would last until midnight on March 13 between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

During the closure, only humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases will be allowed to pass between the West Bank and Gaza, pending approval from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory.

When asked to comment on the justification behind the extension, an Israeli army spokesperson said that the decision was made "in accordance with government directives and security assessments," without providing further explanation.

Purim is celebrated in most of Israel on Sunday this year, while in Jerusalem it is observed on Monday.

Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

Last year during Purim, Israel shut down all checkpoints in the occupied territory, while Palestinians were also restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem with all Palestinian men younger than 50 denied entry to the site.
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