Army Forcefully Stops Palestinians From Slipping Into Israel After Briefly Turning Blind Eye

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Palestinians pass through a breach in a fence near the Meitar checkpoint in the West Bank, August 9, 2020.
Palestinians pass through a breach in a fence near the Meitar checkpoint in the West Bank, August 9, 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani

The Israeli army used force on Tuesday to prevent hundreds of West Bank Palestinians from illegally crossing into Israel through breaches in the border fence, after turning a blind eye to the habit for some time. 

At several locations along the border, clashes erupted and the army used tear gas and smoke grenades. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli army reinforced its presence along the northern stretch of the border fence after thousands of Palestinians crossed over the weekend, mostly families with children. Many of the West Bank Palestinians took the opportunity to head to Mediterranean beaches in Jaffa, Herzliya, Haifa and Acre.

Sunset on Charles Clore beach in Tel Aviv, August 3, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

On Monday, the police had already cracked down on the unauthorized flow of Palestinians into the country, arresting dozens. According to reports from Jaffa, most of those detained were young people seeking work in Israel rather than families on their way to the beach.

On Palestinian social media, which had become the primary source of information about the border breaches, there were reports that openings in the fence had been closed. Meanwhile, organizers of buses from the border to beaches announced that they were halting their transportation services.

The Israel Police said in response that it is continually working with the security forces to locate and remove Palestinians who cross into Israel illegally as well as those who assist them. The police said they had identified more than 60 Palestinians in the Tel Aviv district who were in Israel without permits. Most of them were sent back to the West Bank while four were jailed after being caught illegally in the country for the third time, the police added.

The army said it has decided to reinforce the troop presence at specific locations in the West Bank and along the border. On Sunday, when Haaretz asked the army for comment on the flow of Palestinians through breaches in the fence, the army had declined to comment.

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