This one, however, is an extra-special closure, apparently because it coincides with the forty-day anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Syria. Yes. And that means there is a doubly huge danger here. Yes.
This time, also exceptionally, the beginning of the closure was actually announced IN ADVANCE — I heard about it last night while listening to Kol Israel radio news in Spanish, French and English.
And, also exceptionally the ending time of this doubly extra-strict general closure has also been announced — usually, it has been left open for the convenience of “security considerations”.
Oh no, hold on, wait a minute. Upon closer reading of the details, I see that proviso is still left in as well…
The official announcement does not mention the Mughniyeh mourning dates, but they — and the connection to this double extra-special general closure — have been widely reported in all Israeli media.
The email announcement to journalists and editors was also apparently mailed out late Tuesday, — though I couldn’t see it because my phone (and therefore my internet connection) was not working.
Here is the IDF SPOKESPERSON’s ANNOUNCEMENT:
“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 Judea, Samaria [n.b., the West Bank] and the Gaza Strip. The closure will begin today, Tuesday, March 18th at 12:00 am and will be lifted on Saturday, March 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 am. The lifting of the closure will be carried out in accordance with security assessments. For the duration of the closure, 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 Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The passage of journalists will be permitted. As always, the IDF Spokespersons 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”.
Haaretz, for example, has also reported today that “Israel’s intelligence community has gained possession of fragments of information hinting at plans for a Hezbollah revenge attack in coordination with Iran and Syria. Although this intelligence is partial and unfocused, it was enough to send into high alert troops of the Israel Defense Forces at the northern border. After consulting with security officials, Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a total closure on the West Bank that went into effect at midnight last night and will remain in place until Sunday night. In addition to fears of an attempt to avenge Mughniyah’s death, Barak cited the large number of terror attacks and attempted attacks in recent years around the Purim holiday. The Israel Police are to go on heightened alert from tomorrow. On Monday, when schools reopen after the Purim vacation, the alert level is expected to return to normal levels. National Police Commissioner David Cohen ordered the threat level raised to three, one below the highest level, with special attention given to places of entertainment and public gathering spots”… This Haaretz report can be read in full here .
And, BTW, this extra-special double general closure also coincides with the Christian holiday of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday … and maybe also Easter Sunday. So, no way to attend the Good Friday procession through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City or the Easter Sunday morning sunrise service on the Mount of Olives, for many people again this year …
So, here we all are, yet again anxious and miserable at the approach of another holiday, another general closure.