Ministers Authorize West Bank Closures That IDF Was Already Conducting

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A Palestinian protester throws a firebomb toward Israeli border police jeep during clashes near Ramallah, November 27, 2015.
A Palestinian protester throws a firebomb toward Israeli border police jeep during clashes near Ramallah, November 27, 2015.Credit: Reuters

The security cabinet has authorized the Israeli army to impose full closures on Palestinian villages in the West Bank while searching for suspected terrorists, a senior official in Jerusalem said Friday. However, it has emerged that the IDF hadn't needed such approval in the past. 

The cabinet decision taken on Thursday evening allows military commanders to decide whether to put a village under lockdown without waiting for approval from the government. 

But a military source confirmed that in effect, the tactical decision to put a village on lockdown is already made by military commanders on the ground. 

One such example took place earlier this month, when a Palestinian teen fired a hunting rifle at an IDF solider, seriously wounding him. Shorly after the attack, the village of Beit Anoun, near Hebron, was placed on lockdown.

A closure temporarily bars residents from leaving town, while military forces surround the area. 

On Friday, the IDF imposed a closure on the village of Beit Ummar, in the Hebron region, after a Palestinian driver rammed his car into a group of soldiers earlier, wounding five. The assailant was shot and later died of his wounds. The attack took place hours after two soldiers were wounded in a similar incident in the settlement of Kfar Adumim, outside Jerusalem.

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes, as seen from the Israeli side of the border fence, November 27, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Meanwhile on Friday, Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces clashed across the West Bank and near the Gaza border. Seven Palestinians were wounded by Israel Defense Forces gunfire in the West Bank, near the Halhul-Hebron bridge on Route 35, after trowing firebombs toward security forces, the military said. Another Palestinian was hurt in a similar incident at Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem.

In both incidents the rioters were shot by Ruger rifles, according to the IDF. The .22 inch caliber sniper rifles are generally non-lethal.

The Red Crescent, however, reported treating 454 wounded Palestinians in the West Bank, 14 of whom were hurt by live gunfire and 85 of whom were shot by rubber bullets. The rest suffered from gas inhalation.

In the Gaza clash, 25 people were wounded, according to both the Israeli military and Palestinian officials.

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