Israel Imposes Passover Curfew for West Bank Palestinians, but Permits Al-Aqsa Prayer

Unlike previous years, Israel did not maintain the curfew on Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through the interim days of Passover

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Hagar Shezaf
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Palestinians try to cross to Jerusalem via the Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Friday.
Palestinians try to cross to Jerusalem via the Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Friday.Credit: Hazem Bader/AFP
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The Israel Defense Forces announced Wednesday it will prohibit Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from entering Israel from 5 P.M. Thursday until an unspecified hour on Saturday, for the final day of the Passover holiday.

Despite the closure, Palestinians in the West Bank will be permitted to travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The IDF said it would also make exceptions for humanitarian, medical and other reasons, subject to its approval.

A closure had been imposed on the first day of Passover, last Saturday. Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided not to extend it into the intermediate days of the weeklong holiday, after consulting with defense officials including Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet security service head Ronen Bar.

Back in March, a closure was not imposed on the West Bank during the Purim holiday for the first time in five years.

Israel generally issues closure orders for the fall holidays as well as for Passover and Purim, barring West Bank and Gaza Palestinians from entering Israel except for specific humanitarian reasons.

Last year, a closure was imposed throughout the entire week of Passover, with exception for Palestinians permitted to work in Israel. Tens of thousands of undocumented Palestinians rely on jobs in Israel in order to support their families, while Israeli contractors depend on West Bank Palestinian labor.

In 2020, a sweeping lockdown was imposed on West Bank Palestinians for the entire week of Passover, concurrent with a lockdown in Israel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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