Middle East

Israeli military reopens main Palestinian city after shooting attack on soldiers

The Israeli military reopened the main Palestinian city in the West Bank late Monday after imposing a rare, day-long partial closure of surrounding roads following a Palestinian shooting attack on Israeli soldiers the day before.

Citing a "situation assessment," the military said crossings to and from Ramallah have returned to normal.

Ramallah is the seat of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority and is a commercial center, drawing workers from around the West Bank. "Internal closures" were common during the Palestinian uprising that ended a decade ago, but have been rarely used in recent years. Early on Monday, the military blocked access to Ramallah to all but city residents, and only residents of other towns and humanitarian cases were allowed to leave.

The move came a day after a Palestinian policeman who served as a bodyguard for the Palestinian attorney general opened fire at a checkpoint near the city, wounding three soldiers.

Despite the measure, a row of about 100 cars queued at a checkpoint that was closed in the morning could be seen streaming through, and a main road out of the city, which had earlier been closed, was later opened.

Palestinians said the partial closure was collective punishment for the act of one individual.

"They shouldn't punish the entire governorate of Ramallah for a policeman who carried out an attack," said Palestinian police spokesman Adnan Damiri.

Israel has struggled to contain a wave of near-daily Palestinian attacks, which began in Jerusalem in mid-September and later spread to the West Bank and cities across Israel. It has beefed up security, sending troops to patrol its cities and erecting checkpoints in Arab areas of east Jerusalem.

The wave of violence has claimed the lives of 26 Israelis and one American student. At least 151 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 106 who were said by Israel to have been attackers. The rest have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Israel says the violence is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement. The Palestinians say it is the result of frustrations rooted in nearly 50 years of life under Israeli occupation.

In the latest violence Monday, the military said a Palestinian attempting to cross the West Bank separation barrier drew a knife when soldiers approached him. The troops opened fire, killing the Palestinian.

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Nablus on Monday to pay respects to Amjad Sukkari. The 34-year-old policeman shot at Israeli troops at a West Bank checkpoint before he was fatally shot by troops Sunday, according to the military.

Among the mourners was Nablus governor Akram Rajoub.

"It doesn't mean I agree with what he has done," Rajoub said. "I'm against policemen carrying out attacks, but we are people who respect their martyrs and dead."