Israel Seals West Bank for Duration of Passover

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The Israeli army sealed off the West Bank early Sunday ahead of the weeklong Passover holiday, restricting the movement of Palestinians into Israel.

Palestinians will not be able to enter Israel until the end of the holiday, which begins Monday, according to an army announcement, though exceptions will be made for humanitarian cases and for Palestinian Christians visiting family inside Israel over the Easter holiday, the army said.

The army "regards the holiday period as a highly sensitive time," the statement said. In 2002, a suicide attack at a hotel in the Israeli city of Netanya on Passover killed 30 Israelis and helped spur a major army offensive in the West Bank.

• Visit's Mideast Center for more in-depth coverage.

Military spokesman Shlomo Dror said the closure will affect some 50,000 Palestinian workers and merchants who cross into Israel every day to work.

In recent years, the army has imposed similar closures during Jewish holidays.

Palestinian movement is already heavily curbed. Hundreds of military checkpoints are scattered throughout the West Bank, and Israel is building a massive separation barrier along the frontier with the West Bank. The U.N. has said that the restrictions on movement in the West Bank have caused tremendous harm to the Palestinian economy.

Complete coverage is available in's Mideast Center.