Israel closes border for all Palestinians during Jewish new year

By Allen Cone
Israel closes border for all Palestinians during Jewish new year
An Israeli border police blows a shofar, a ram's horn, in the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel, for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, that starts at sunset Sunday Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The Israeli government will prevent Palestinians from crossing into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza during the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, which starts at sundown Sunday.

The military, citing security concerns, closed the borders at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Only in cases of medical and "humanitarian" emergencies will people be allowed to cross the borders with the prior approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israel Defense Forces said late Saturday night.


The holiday ends Tuesday night. The restrictions will be lifted at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, or depending on a "situational assessment," according to military

The army routinely seals off borders on Jewish holidays.

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It's the first closure of the West Bank and Gaza since June, when the military imposed a lockdown ahead of the Shavuot holiday and just after a terror attack in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a Rosh Hashana greeting Sunday for the upcoming year of 5777 on the Jewish calendar, remembering former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday at the age of 93.


"Shimon was a man of vision and optimism," Netanyahu said. "And I think Shimon would want us to celebrate Rosh Hashana this year by looking back with pride and looking forward with hope."

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Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been stagnant since U.S.-brokered talks collapsed in 2014.

"As Shimon was, I am extremely hopeful about our future. Israel will continue working for peace," Netanyahu said.

"We'll continue expanding opportunity for all our citizens. We'll continue to be a beacon of light and freedom in a dark and repressive region," he added.

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U.S. President Barack Obama also gave a Rosh Hashana greeting.

"My last Rosh Hashana in the White House is a chance to reflect on the great privilege I've had as president to work closely with the Jewish community," Obama said.

"To speak at synagogues here in the United States and abroad," he said. "To place a private prayer in the ancient cracks of the Kotel [the Western Wall]. To retell the timeless story of the exodus at our annual White House Seders. And to walk through Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel, meet with young Israelis in Jerusalem, and present the Medal of Freedom to Shimon Peres."

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In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year."

It begins the 10 most important days of the Jewish calendar -- Days of Awe -- and culminates with the most important day of all, Yom Kippur.

During Rosh Hashana, apples and honey are often eaten to symbolize the idea of a "sweet new year."

Also, the ram's horn, known as the shofar, is blown.

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