Israel implements full closure on West Bank, Gaza

Israeli authorities implemented a full closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on June 10, adding to a long line of punitive measures that have been carried out since the deadly attack in Tel Aviv two days earlier. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that all passages to the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip would be sealed until Monday June 13 at midnight after an army "situation assessment," with the exception of humanitarian and medical cases. However, the spokesperson said Palestinians from the West Bank with permits to attend Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem would be allowed passage. The sealing of the West Bank and Gaza is one of several punitive orders that have been implemented by the Israeli government following an attack in Tel Aviv that left four Israelis killed and another six wounded.

The measure comes just one day after Israel’s decision to freeze more than 83,000 permits allowing Palestinians to enter Israel and East Jerusalem during Ramadan, including freezing the work permits of 204 of the suspected attackers' relatives who rely on entering Israel for employment.

Israeli authorities additionally cancelled all coordination with the besieged Gaza Strip for Ramadan, cancelling weekly visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque, implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's 2014 aerial offensive.

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued an order on June 9 to suspend the return of all Palestinian bodies killed during suspected attacks.

Meanwhile, a large-scale raid was carried out in the alleged attackers' hometown of Yatta in the West Bank district of Hebron in the early morning hours on June 9, as Israeli forces detained an unspecified number of people. The town has been completely sealed by Israeli forces, with no Palestinians allowed to leave except for humanitarian or medical cases.

Israeli forces deployed two additional Israeli army battalions to the West Bank on June 9, consisting of hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Israel's punitive policies against Palestinians are often the target of condemnation among rights groups around the world, who point out that such punitive measures constitute a form of "collective punishment" and represent a clear violation of international law.

More than 200 Palestinians and close to 30 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of a wave of unrest in October in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, which has been mainly characterized by small-scale Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers and military targets.

From Ma'an News Agency, June 10

  1. ‘Jerusalem Day’ observed amid tension in Old City

    An Israeli court denied a petition to bar the "Jerusalem Day" march from passing through the Muslim Quarter in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City, just as some 200 right-wing Israelis entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and thousands more gathered around the Western Wall to begin celebrations. The director of the al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, told Ma'an New Agency that the settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate under heavy protection by Israeli police and special forces.

    Israeli police said in a statement that three "Jewish visitors" were evacuated from the compound for violating regulations regarding non-Muslim prayer on the site, and another was taken in for questioning for being suspected of attacking an Israeli police officer. Two Palestinian women were also detained for chanting and "disturbing the peace." (Ma'an)

    Earlier in the week, Ramadan celebrations in the Old City were effectively suppressed by right-wing Israelis holding "Flag Day" rallies—also marking the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem. Some taunted Muslim residents with chants such as chants heard included “Mohammed is dead,” and “the Temple will be built, the [al-Aqsa] Mosque will be burned." (Ma'an)

    Temple Mount Faithful leader Yehuda Glick—now an MK—responded in two-faced manner to a reporter's question about calls to destroy al-Aqsa: "Anyone whose aim is to destroy someone else’s house of prayer is not from my camp," he began. But he quickly added: "I’m very much afraid that the Waqf’s everything-is-mine conduct could cause the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. If they want to continue with the everything-is-mine policy and sooner or later start up with a war, they might pay the price."