Israeli authorities, on Sunday, closed off the border crossings leading to the West Bank, in addition to Karm Abu Salem crossing, Gaza’s sole commercial crossing.According to WAFA, local sources said the closure of the West Bank will last until Tuesday, under the pretext of the Jewish holidays, including the reduction of work hours at the Allenby border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.
The Israeli authorities also announced that it will only allow Arab citizens of Israel to enter the West Bank from 7 am to 12 am.
The authorities also announced the closure of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow Jewish settlers to perform religious rituals inside the mosque compound.
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli border authorities shut down Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) commercial crossing – the only crossing for the transfer of aids and merchandise into Gaza – under the same pretext.
Israeli forces will deny Muslim worshipers access to Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque during Passover on Wednesday and Thursday, a Palestinian official said.
Sheikh Taysir Abu Sheinah, the director of the Hebron office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment, told Ma’an News Agency that the decision was a ‘breach of freedom of religion and a continuation of the (Israeli) occupation’s policy to Judaize the Ibrahimi Mosque.’
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the closure, saying that the holy site is regularly closed to Muslims on Jewish holidays ‘and on Muslim holidays it is closed for Jews.’
‘It’s nothing unusual,’ she said.
A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.
The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque — also split into a synagogue referred to as the Cave of the Patriarchs — and the once thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Israeli forces have deployed heavily at all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound since early Monday imposing strict restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers to the compound.
Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment Sheikh Azam al-Khatib told Ma’an that the Israeli police officially notified him that the Moroccan gate would be shut down completely.
In addition, all tourist programs in the compound have been cancelled, added Sheikh al-Khatib highlighting that he has invested huge efforts since Sunday contacting Israeli police to make sure they will prevent the entry of “extremist” Jews into the compound.
Furthermore, Israeli police decided to allow only Jerusalem women and men who are above 50 to enter the compound for prayers after they leave their identity cards with police officers at the gates.
About 500 students who study in schools inside the compound have also been denied entry.
Several Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which the Jews believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.
Passover starts Tuesday, according to the Jewish calender.