Israel closes off West Bank city of Ramallah in wake of shooting

2016-02-01 19:31
(Gali Tibbon, AFP)

(Gali Tibbon, AFP)

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Tel Aviv - Israel placed Ramallah under "siege" after a Palestinian gunman injured three Israeli soldiers outside the central West Bank city, Palestinian officials said on Monday.

Israeli soldiers tightened security at all checkpoints around Ramallah. Residents were allowed to enter but not leave the city, while Palestinians non-residents were allowed to leave but not enter, witnesses near the checkpoint told dpa.

It is the first time that the economic hub of the West Bank has been placed under a partial closure since the latest wave of violence broke out in October. More than 160 Palestinians - many of them knife attackers - and 26 Israelis have been killed during the last four months.

The military closed off the city due to the shooting attack on Sunday, as well as intelligence information that indicated more violent activity is being planned in the area, an Israeli military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said.

She said that journalists, diplomats and "special humanitarian cases" were being allowed to move freely through the checkpoints.

Sunday's shooting attack took place at a checkpoint between Ramallah and the Jewish settlement of Beit El, which borders the Palestinian city from the north.

While most recent attacks have been committed by individuals who didn't appear to belong to armed groups or Palestinian Authority forces, the shooter in this instance was a Palestinian policeman.

He was 29 years old and a father of three from the northern West Bank.

Nabil Shaath, a top member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, slammed the partial closure as "collective punishment" of the entire city.

Israeli soldiers early Monday also shot dead a Palestinian man elsewhere in the West Bank, near the fence that separates the occupied territory from Israel, the army said.

The suspect crossed the fence east of the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba and then drew a knife when Israeli forces arrived.

Read more on:    israel

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