Israel to seal off West Bank, Gaza ahead Jewish New Year

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Israel has said it would seal off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for two days ahead of Jewish New Year celebrations, restricting most Palestinians from leaving the territories.

The spokeswoman for the Israeli army said on Friday that as from Sunday through Tuesday, Palestinians might only enter Israel if they were subject to special exemptions or for humanitarian reasons.

Israel routinely closes the West Bank and Gaza on Jewish holidays, citing security concerns.

Jews celebrate the New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, on the first two days of the Hebrew calendar month Tishrei.

According to the spokeswoman, October will witness two further closures of the border crossings, for the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, from Oct. 8 to Oct. 9, and the Sukkot festival, from Oct. 12 to Oct. 21.

The spokeswoman added that Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank, where Palestinians often work, would remain open during the holidays.

Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and since then have controlled the West Bank and maintained a blockade on Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.

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