Israel seals off Palestinian territories ahead of Jewish holiday

World Today

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-CLOSUREPalestinians walk next to the house of Misbah Abu Sbeih (portrait), the attacker who opened fire on civilians from a car and at police in Jerusalem earlier in the week before being shot dead, in the West Bank town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on October 11, 2016. Israeli authorities have arrested dozens of Palestinians after a deadly shooting rampage in Jerusalem raised fears of a surge in violence during this week’s Yom Kippur holiday, police said on October 10. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Israel’s military said Tuesday it sealed all the exits and entries to Israeli-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, or Judaism’s “day of atonement.”

A military spokesperson said in a statement that “during the closure, only exceptional medical and humanitarian cases will be allowed to pass, subjected to approval by the government’s coordinator of activities in the territories.”

Yom Kippur will begin on Tuesday evening and last for 25 hours, during which Jews fast and pray for forgiveness from God. It is the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar.

Israel frequently seals the Palestinian territories during Jewish holidays, citing security reasons.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that thousands of policemen were deployed across Jerusalem ahead of the holiday to secure Jewish pilgrims to the Western Wall.

Jews revere the site as their “second Jewish temple,” which was destroyed in 70 CE.

It resides just below the al-Aqsa mosque compound, a hilltop compound which is the third holiest site for Muslims. The increased number of Jewish prayers to the area was feared to incite more tensions in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis in the city.

Samri said the police closed an East Jerusalem candy store belonged to a family member of the perpetrator of the attack. According to Israel, the shop was used as a “center of incitement” to encourage more attacks against Israelis.

A yearlong violence has claimed the lives of at least 230 Palestinians and 36 Israelis.

According to Israel, most of the killed Palestinians were trying to carry out knife, car-ramming or shooting attacks.

Story by Xinhua.