Israel makes an unexpected decision to close the Palestinian territory

Gaza’s sole pedestrian crossing connecting the Strip with Israel. Erez crossing. Photo: Gisha

Gaza’s sole pedestrian crossing connecting the Strip with Israel. Erez crossing. Photo: Gisha

March 22, 2016. Israel announced unexpectedly this morning that it would close the Palestinian territory to movement of people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. The Erez Crossing, Gaza’s sole pedestrian crossing connecting the Strip with Israel, the West Bank and given the closure of Rafah, with the outside world, will be closed from Wednesday to Sunday morning. Movement will apparently be permitted for special humanitarian cases, Christians with permits for the holiday, and for Israeli citizens and foreigners only.

The Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee received the notice this morning at 11:30 and passed on the information to Ma’an News Service (Arabic). Individuals holding permits for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will apparently be prevented from using the crossing.

Israel generally imposes closures of this kind on the Palestinian territory on the Jewish high holidays. Purim, which begins Wednesday evening is not one of these holidays. The last time a closure of this kind occurred during Purim was apparently 2011.

Christians from Gaza have been granted permits to celebrate the upcoming Christian holidays, including Good Friday (this Friday) and Easter (this coming Sunday). The Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee reported that it appears that Israel will respect these permits despite the closure.