From midnight tonight until Wednesday, there will be a total, complete, general closure of the West Bank for a three-day period to mark Purim — commemorating the Jewish Queen Esther who, with her uncle Mordechai. were able to persuade her husband the Persian King Ahasuerus not to allow a massacre of Jews that was being planned by the King’s wicked Vizier, Haman.
Israel’s Government Press Office calls Purim “one of Judaism’s more colorful and popular holidays”.
But, for the West Bank, it means a total, complete, general closure. No travel permits granted by Israel will be honored, the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center — now relocated to the West Bank capital city Ramallah — has reported. But, that does not seem to be quite true, as there are exceptions, at least on paper.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson has informed journalists that “In accordance with the decision made by the Minister of Defense and as part of the security measures adopted by the defense establishment, a general closure will be implemented in the Judea and Samaria [sic — this means the West Bank] region. The closure will begin tonight, Sunday, March 8th, at 11:59 pm and will be lifted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2009 at 11:59 pm. The lifting of the closure will be carried out in accordance with security assessments. For the duration of the closure, persons in need will be permitted to pass in order to receive medical care. Additionally, the passage of humanitarian aid as well as doctors, medical personnel, NGO members, lawyers, religious workers and additional professional groups will be authorized by the District Coordination and Liaison offices. In addition, commercial crossings will remain open for the passage of supplies into the Judea and Samaria [sic] area. The passage of journalists will also be permitted. As always, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit strongly suggests that passage into the Judea and Samaria region be coordinated in advance. The IDF regards the Purim holiday as a highly sensitive period in terms of the security risk. As a result, the IDF will increase its alertness and its presence at points of friction, in order to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel, while preserving to the best of its ability, the daily life of the Palestinian population”.