Israel Extends Closure on West Bank and Gaza by 24 Hours

This is the second year in a row that all crossings are closed to Palestinians during the Jewish Purim holiday.

Palestinian woman looks at member of Israeli security forces at Qalandia checkpoint. Palestinians wait to cross from West Bank to Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 3, 2015.
Abbas Momani, AFP Photo

Israel on Saturday extended the closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza over the Purim holiday weekend.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the decision to extend the closure by a day, until Monday night, was taken by the political leadership.

The IDF didn't specify a reason for the extension. The decision was taken following a situation assessment made by defense agencies over the course of the weekend.

As part of the closure, which began on Thursday night, all the crossings to the West Bank and Gaza were closed to Palestinians, with the exception of humanitarian cases, medical and otherwise, with the approval of the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Purim is celebrated in most of Israel on Sunday this year, while in Jerusalem it is observed on Monday.

Israel customarily implements such a closure before all major Jewish holidays. Last year, in what was considered an exceptional move, a closure was implemented for Purim too, a move that had not been taken for a number of years before 2016.   

Meanwhile on Saturday, Israeli soldiers from the Paratroopers' Brigade arrested a young Palestinian armed with a knife in near a Hebron checkpoint. During questioning, the Palestinian said he was planning to carry out a terror attack in the area. He was transferred to the Shin Bet for interrogation.