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Israel bars Palestinian workers from Gush Etzion settlement bloc

Nov. 23, 2015 11:10 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2015 11:02 A.M.)
The Israeli West Bank settlement of Efrat on Sept. 1, 2014. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel barred Palestinians from entering illegal settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc on Monday after a 21-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed to death in the area a day earlier, Israel's army said.

"In light of the recent attacks and following situation assessments, precautionary security measures have been taken in Gush Etzion," an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an.

She could not provide further details about how long the restrictions would last.

The measures will prevent Palestinians from entering settlements in Gush Etzion, home to over 90,000 Israeli settlers, as well as the Efrat and Beitar IIit settlements nearby.

An estimated 2,000 Palestinians work in the settlement bloc south of Bethlehem.

On Sunday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces after he stabbed to death a 21-year-old Israeli woman near the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

The Israeli victim, identified as 21-year-old Hadar Buchrus, was evacuated to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem where she was pronounced dead.

The Palestinian attacker was identified as 34-year-old Issa Thawabta from Beit Fajjar in Bethlehem district, just south of Gush Etzion.

More than 90 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of October -- many shot dead under circumstances in which rights groups said that Israeli forces used unnecessary force -- while at least 16 Israelis have been killed in the same period.

The Gush Etzion junction in particular has been the site of several deadly encounters, including a shooting attack on Thursday that resulted in the death of two Israelis and one Palestinian bystander, and the injury of 10 others.

In response, Israeli officials agreed on Thursday to increase security measures inside the settlement bloc, including increased restrictions on the movement of Palestinians.

Israeli news site Ynet reported that the measures could include the temporary restriction of movement of Palestinians in the area, the deployment of extra Israeli security forces, and the construction of a "fence" along certain roads.
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