The Israeli army said today that it was temporarily barring all Palestinians from entering Israel, stepping up already tough restrictions announced after Palestinian gunmen shot dead four Israelis in Tel Aviv.
“In accordance with government directives and the ongoing situation assessment, as of today crossing from the Gaza Strip and Judaea and Samaria (the West Bank) will be open to Palestinians only in medical and humanitarian cases,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
She said that the closure would remain in force until midnight Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet yesterday and announced a slew of punitive and deterrent measures against Palestinians in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting in a popular Tel Aviv nightspot, the deadliest attack in a months-long wave of violence.
Among the measures, the government said it was revoking entry permits for more than 80,000 Palestinians during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, a move likely to further stoke tensions.
It said it was also sending two additional battalions – hundreds more troops – into the occupied West Bank.
Newly installed Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered that the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks no longer be returned to their families for burial, a spokesman said.
The policy is backed by Israeli hawks as a deterrent measure.