Israel Announces Extended, 11-day Closure of West Bank, Gaza for Jewish Holiday

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman cited an attack at a settlement last week, in which three Israelis were killed, in ordering the unusually long closure

An Israeli border police officer stands as Palestinian women wait to cross the Qalandiyah checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, Friday, June 17, 2015.
An Israeli border police officer stands as Palestinian women wait to cross the Qalandiyah checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on June 17, 2015. Majdi Mohammed / AP

In a departure from the custom in recent years, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered an 11-day closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, from the start of the Sukkot holiday through the following Shabbat.

Temporary closures for Jewish holidays are common, but for week-long religious festivals such as Sukkot they are usually imposed only for the holidays that bookend the week.

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During these closures, Palestinians are prohibited from entering Israel except for medical or other emergencies, and only with permission from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

In explaining the need for the extended closure, Lieberman cited the incident last week in which three Israelis — a Border Police officer and two civilian security guards — were shot and killed at the entrance to the Har Adar settlement by a Palestinian who had a permit to work in settlements.

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