IDF Imposes Restrictions on Palestinian Traffic in W. Bank

For the first time in several months, Israel Defense Forces troops began restricting Palestinian traffic yesterday on the road linking Nablus and Hebron with Jerusalem (Road 60).

The move comes in response to Sunday's shooting attacks, which left three Israelis dead and seven wounded.

In keeping with the new directives approved during consultations between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior defense establishment figures on Sunday night, the road is now closed to private Palestinian vehicles, and use of the road is restricted to public transportation.

The new directive applies to the section of the road between the Shama junction on the seam line of the Hebron Hills area and the Tapuach junction south of Nablus.

The IDF has also blocked off a number of side roads that join Road 60 in the Bethlehem area, close to the site of the attack at the Gush Etzion junction. In addition, security has been tightened at checkpoints around Hebron and Bethlehem. Reinforcement troops have also been moved into the same areas.

Defense establishment sources said the measures would have been put into effect anyway, in light of the Sukkot holiday and the thousands of visitors expected at the Tomb of the Patriarchs over the coming days.

The IDF also plans to press ahead with its arrest raids. On Monday, troops apprehended 20 Palestinians, mostly Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, in the West Bank.

Despite the fact that a Fatah militia claimed responsibility for Sunday's shootings, the IDF and Shin Bet security service believe a Hebron-based Hamas cell carried out the attacks.