Israel barred the Palestinian governor of Hebron from entering Israel, after he paid his condolences to the family of a man killed by settlement security after stabbing an Israeli girl to death in her home.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories accused Governor Kamal Ahmad Hassan Hamid of supporting terrorism, though he claimed that the visit wasn't a political statement.
"We were hoping that the Palestinian leadership would issue a pacifying and restrained statement, but unfortunately it does the opposite," said COGAT. "Israel won't agree to aid supporters of terrorism, and therefore COGAT decided to revoke all the benefits pertaining to the governor of Hebron and bans his entry into Israel."
Mohammed Nasser Tra'ayra, 19, from the Palestinian village of Bani Na'im, jumped the Kiryat Arba settlement's perimeter fence and then broke into an isolated home, stabbing 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep. He was then shot dead by the settlement's security force.
The governor said that the visit to Tra'ayra's home was of a social and religious nature, and had no political statement. Ahmed further stated that he had no special benefits from Israel. Sources close to the governor accused COGAT of incitement against him, saying that such condolence calls were a norm in Palestinian society and don't constitute a statement of support for the terrorist's acts.
Also on Sunday, at an Iftar meal at his residence, President Reuven Rivlin said that it was "impossible for the Palestinian leadership and society to encourage or stand by facing such brutal and criminal terrorism."
"In these blood-soaked days, not only is the Palestinian leadership's voice absent, voices are heard backing the murderers and their families," he told his guests, prominent figures in the Arab community. "Those who won't stop the terrorism that strikes us today, will eventually encounter it at their doorstep."
Meanwhile, it appeared that the closure Israel imposed on the Hebron area since Friday, when Palestinian attacks killed two Israelis in the area, was not total, and the Israeli army allows Palestinian vehicles to travel around the region after being searched.
During a tour of the area on Sunday afternoon, it seemed that despite the limitations on travel in the area, the closure imposed on Hebron and its surrounding areas, where some 700,000 people live, is not being enforced strictly. The entrances to some towns and villages, for example Idna and Halhoul, had traffic backups because of the checkpoints set up by the IDF; but they did not prevent Palestinians from leaving or entering.
But the town of Bani Na'im, where the terrorist who killed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep on Thursday came from, is still under full closure, and no one is allowed in or out - except for humanitarian reasons.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem that a wide range of means are being used, "including tough methods that have not been used in the past." Netanyahu said these include the closure of the Hebron district; the cancellation of work permits for residents of Bani Nai'im, where six terrorists have come from recently; massively reinforcing troops in the area, including adding two battalions with an emphasis on operating along the main roads.
Early Sunday morning, six Palestinians were arrested in the area, including the sister of the terrorist from Bani Na'im. She was arrested for incitement, after she appeared on television saying she supported her brother and wished Allah would take revenge on the Jews, said defense officials.
In addition, large numbers of IDF troops are searching for the gunmen behind the drive-by shooting on Friday near Hebron that killed Michael "Miki" Mark, a father of 10 from the West Bank settlement of Otniel. Soldiers carried out operations Saturday night in the Hebron area and the towns of Bani Nai'im, al-Fawar, al-Bourj and Hirbet al-Hirjah.
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