The Israel Defense Forces has imposed a four-day closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip—running from Tuesday through Saturday at midnight—ahead of the festival of Purim, which commemorates the Jewish people’s thwarting of a plan to commit genocide against it by Haman, the royal vizier of ancient Persian ruler Ahasuerus. The move prevents all Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza from crossing into Israel, “with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases” approved by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military body that oversees civilian aspects in those areas. The entry ban thus applies to tens of thousands of Palestinians that hold valid permits to work in Israel, but will not impact those that are employed by Jewish communities in the West Bank. Israel closes the border crossings ahead of all major Jewish holidays, during which, historically, there has been an uptick in Palestinian terrorism. Several attacks have been launched on Purim, specifically, most notably a suicide bombing in 1996 outside Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center that killed 13 Israelis and wounded 130 others. Purim, the story of which is recorded in the biblical Book of Esther, is a unique holiday in Israel marked by much of the population dressing up in costumes and attending public gatherings and parties.
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