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Israel seals off W. Bank, Gaza for Jewish holiday

Israel seals off Palestinian territories

The Israeli authorities on Thursday evening geared up to seal off the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip in advance of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim.

“Coinciding with Purim… and based on the decision of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, it was decided to impose a closure on the Palestinian territories,” Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the occupied territories, said in a statement.

The closure, he said, would remain in effect from midnight Thursday until midnight Sunday.

Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which generally falls in late winter or early spring.

The holiday supposedly commemorates the rescue of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from a plot to destroy the Jews.

During periods of closure, Palestinians are prevented from working in Israel or accessing medical treatment there unless they obtain special permits from the Israeli authorities.

Israel frequently imposes closures on the Palestinian territories during Jewish holidays.

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