Airport Shutters, West Bank Put Under Closure for Yom Kippur

IDF eases restrictions on entry into Israel for Palestinians next week during the Id al-Adha festival.

Daniel Bar-On

The West Bank was put under military closure on Thursday night ahead of Yom Kippur. The closure, which was ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, will remain in place until Saturday at midnight.

While the closure is in place, Palestinians will not be able to enter Israel except in extraordinary humanitarian circumstances that have the approval of the Civil Administration.

Ben-Gurion Airport will be closed to incoming and outgoing flights from 2 P.M. on Friday until 10:30 P.M. on Saturday night.

Yom Kippur is the only day of the year on which both the airport and Israeli airspace are closed.

Some 33,000 passengers on 218 flights are expected to enter and leave the country on Friday before the airport closes for Yom Kippur.

The IDF has decided to ease restrictions on entry into Israel by West Bank residents next week due to the Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) holiday which coincides with Yom Kippur this year, and starts on Saturday. 

From Sunday until Tuesday, West Bank residents will be allowed family visits and day trips in Israel without age restriction. Palestinians over the age of 60 will not require special permits before entering Israel. Some 500 West Bank residents over 60 will be able to visit family in the Gaza Strip and 200 Palestinian businesspeople will receive permits to fly abroad from Ben-Gurion Airport.

An additional 500 Palestinians over the age of 60 will be allowed to enter Israel in buses through the Erez crossing point in order to attend Id al-Adha prayers in Israel.

Holiday arrangements

Senior Tel Aviv police officers met this week with a municipal advisory committee comprised of Jewish, Muslim and Christian representatives to discuss arrangements in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. At the meeting, officials decided that Muslims could hold barbecues in the Midron Jaffa Park near the beach, but not at parks within Tel Aviv itself. Stores, restaurants and kiosks will be allowed to open only in neighborhoods that are predominantly Muslim. The city also distributed fliers to everyone living near the border between mainly Jewish Tel Aviv and mainly Arab Jaffa to urge each community to display sensitivity toward the other one.

In Jerusalem, four times as many police will deploy as on a normal Yom Kippur. And in another contrast to Yom Kippur in previous years, certain main roads through Jewish neighborhoods will be closed to prevent friction between Jewish residents and the masses of Muslims expected to drive to the Temple Mount for prayers. For instance, Hebron Road – a major north-south artery where Jews have thrown stones at passing Arab cars on Yom Kippur in past years – will be closed this year, and Muslims driving to the Temple Mount from southern neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be routed instead through the Arab neighborhoods of Jabal Mukkaber and Silwan.