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Israeli forces close Palestinian city for third day

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli forces gather at the Einav checkpoint, east of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, where a young Palestinian woman was shot dead on December 1, 2015. (AFP photo)

Israeli forces have maintained a complete closure of the occupied northwestern West Bank city of Tulkarm for the third consecutive day.

The closure entered its third day on Saturday, with an Israeli military spokesperson saying that all movement in or out of the city has been banned “except for humanitarian cases,” Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

Israeli forces raided the Tulkarm governorate on December 9, claiming that they were searching for a person whom they accused of wounding Shaul Nir, a former member of the Jewish Underground terror organization, and his wife in a drive-by shooting in the area.

Shaul Nir, a former member of the Israeli terrorist organization Jewish Underground (file photo)

The Israeli forces reportedly closed entrances leading in and out of the city with cement blocks and mounds of earth by December 10.

Surrounding areas including Tulkarm’s eastern entrance near Noor Shams refugee camp, the entrances of Kafa and Dhinnaba villages, as well as the main road between the villages of Shufa and Ezbet Shufa were also blocked.

The closure came a month after the Israeli regime allowed the military to close Palestinian villages in the West Bank while searching for what it called “suspected terrorists,” without first getting the approval of Tel Aviv.

The city of Tulkarm houses more than 50,000 Palestinians while the continued closure is likely to affect the movement of the nearly 200,000 residents of the Tulkarm governorate.

The terror group to which Shaul Nir belonged carried out a series of assaults, including car bomb attacks, against Palestinian officials, and its highest profile plot was to destroy the Dome of the Rock in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Nir, together with three other members of the terrorist group, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1983 shooting attack on the Islamic College in al-Khalil (Hebron) and attempted assassinations. His sentences were controversially commuted three times by then Israeli President Chaim Herzog, and he was released after serving less than seven years.

Tensions between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are showing no sign of abatement. The wave of unrest was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.

Palestinians gesture toward Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm. (AFP photo)

Palestinians are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers, who frequently storm the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. The Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound.

Nearly 120 Palestinians and about 20 Israelis have been killed in the recent wave of clashes between Palestinians and Israelis since the start of October.

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