Total closure of West Bank extended – linked to security for re-opening of synagogue in East Jerusalem's Old City

This is from the Jerusalem Post: “Following a weekend of sporadic clashes between Arab youths and security forces in and around the capital, Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco decided to extend heightened security measures put into place in the Old City and east Jerusalem for an additional day. Franco’s decision, made following a security assessment on Saturday night, came before the scheduled rededication of the historic Hurva synagogue in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter on Monday. The rededication of the synagogue, which dates back to 1700 and has been razed and rebuilt twice – it was last destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948 – is expected to draw large crowds and has been the source of rising tensions and circulating rumors regarding the Temple Mount [n.b. — this is what Israel calls the plateau where the Second and also the earlier First Jewish Temples are believed to have stood, and which Muslims call the Haram ash-Sharif, housing both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most revered site in Islam, built nearly 600 years after the destruction of the Second Temple — the plateau itself is supported in part by the Western or Wailing Wall, the most revered site in Judaism]…

Continue reading Total closure of West Bank extended – linked to security for re-opening of synagogue in East Jerusalem's Old City

It's Friday, there are demonstrations — and a surprise TOTAL CLOSURE of the West Bank

It was a lovely, sunny, warm spring-like morning in Ramallah. It was Friday — the day off work, the day of the Friday prayer for Muslims, who would prefer to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem, if they could…if they could get a permit.

Friday is also the day of demonstrations … after at Friday prayers — at The Wall in Bil’il, Nil’in, Ma’asara, Nebi Salah…and now also, with mainly Israeli participants, at Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, north of the Old City. The Israeli Defense Forces disagree with the organizers of these demonstrations, who call the demonstrations “non-violent”. No, for the IDF, they are “violent”, because the demonstrators may “attack” (i.e., try to cross or to dismantle) the Wall, or the Fence (as the Wall is configured, in rural areas), or because some may “hurl” stones at Israeli jeeps or soldiers, once tear-gas and stun grenades and rubber bullets are fired as a method of “crowd control” (normally, a duty carried out by police, not by armed soldiers).

When there are clashes elsewhere, they almost always spread to the narrow bottleneck that Qalandia has become, where hundreds of thousands of people a day are squeezed through, if they are lucky, in scenes that are a terrifying and stressful nightmare. The whole humiliating and often-terrifying ordeal of passing through Qalandia is mainly designed to check documents and papers — to make sure that someone is allowed, by virture of where he or she resides, to enter Jerusalem, or that they have “permits”. For those allowed to pass in cars, there is a “security inspection” of the trunks and contents of vehicles.

Continue reading It's Friday, there are demonstrations — and a surprise TOTAL CLOSURE of the West Bank

IDF announces it is now enforcing a TOTAL CLOSURE of "Yehuda/Shomron"

The IDF has just sent out an announcement that it has started enforcing a total closure of what it called “Yehuda/Shomron”, until the end of Yom Kippur (which starts tomorrow, Sunday, at sunset, and which ends 25 hours later, on Monday evening just after sunset).

IT is not clear exactly what “Yehuda/Shomron” is — though it seems to mean more or less the same thing as “Judea and Samaria”, which was the terminology used last year, and it seems be more or less the same thing as what the rest of the world knows as the occupied West Bank. [Perhaps “Yehuda/Shomron” are the Hebrew-language words for Judea and Samaria?] As we reported here , the terms “Judea and Samaria” were used as recently as this past spring.

The announcement, received by SMS, informs us of the following: “IDF now enforcing general closure on Yehuda/Shomron from now until the end of Yom Kippur”.

Meanwhile, YNet reported on Sunday that “Vehicles will not be allowed to pass from east Jerusalem to the western part of the city in order to minimize the friction between Jews and Arabs“. Given that there are so many Israeli and Jewish “neighborhoods” are now in East Jerusalem, it might be hard to enforce this measure. However, a distinctive feature of the Yom Kippur holiday is the extent of the shut-down in Israel, with the airport closed, and traffic completely banned in many areas. Last year, it was possible to drive from the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem to the Dahiet al-Bariid neighborhood, past Psgaat Ze’ev and Neve Yaacov, but Israeli police cars barred the entrance to both places.

The YNet report added that “The defense establishment has declared a heightened state of alert across the country ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. On Saturday evening, a closure was imposed on the West Bank until Monday at midnight. Residents will only be allowed to cross into Israel in humanitarian cases. The defense establishment will focus its Yom Kippur Eve activity around cemeteries, while on Yom Kippur itself forces will be deployed around synagogues”. This report can be read in full here.

Another Jewish holiday – Passover – another general closure of the West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced Monday evening that there would be a long general closure on the West Bank at midnight — and it will last 12 days, until midnight on Saturday 18 April — in accordance with security assessments, of course.
Continue reading Another Jewish holiday – Passover – another general closure of the West Bank