Israel will seal off the occupied Palestinian territories – the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip – for two days during Jewish New Year celebrations that begin on Sunday, restricting most Palestinians from leaving the territories. From Sunday through Tuesday, Palestinians may only enter Israel if they are subject to special exemptions or for humanitarian reasons, a spokeswoman for the Israeli military said on Friday.
Israel routinely closes the West Bank and Gaza on Jewish holidays, citing security concerns. Next month will see two further closures of the border crossings, for the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, from Oct. 8-9, and the Sukkot festival, from Oct. 12-21. However, Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank, where Palestinians often work, will remain open during the holidays, according to the Israeli authorities.
Israel seized West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and moved troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. Palestinians seek to make the West Bank part of a future state that would include the Gaza Strip and have east Jerusalem as its capital. Israel controls all access to and from the Gaza Strip apart from the Palestinian enclave's crossing with Egypt. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. In the long-embargoed enclave, the humanitarian situation has grown worse each day.