Israel Imposes Harsh Restrictions on Palestinians in West Bank After Attacks

JERUSALEM — After two deadly attacks in the West Bank in two days, the Israeli government and military announced sweeping measures on Friday against Palestinians and their government.

The moves came after an Israeli motorist was shot Friday in Hebron and a Palestinian teenager stabbed a girl in her bedroom on Thursday.

The Israeli military said Friday that it would prevent all Palestinian movement between towns and villages in the southern West Bank, including Hebron, and that it had ordered in two more battalions to secure the area. The Israeli government said it would withhold some crucial tax revenues it normally transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

The closings in the West Bank were the harshest measures imposed on Palestinians since three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank in June 2014, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a conference call on Friday. The kidnapping of the three teenagers ultimately led to a devastating war that summer between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

“This isn’t a normal situation, and that’s why we are taking substantial steps on the ground,” Colonel Lerner said, adding that the moves were intended to “disrupt, prevent and foil additional attacks.”

The measures were made after one or more gunmen fired on a family traveling in a car near Hebron on Friday, killing the father and seriously wounding the mother, the Israeli military reported. Two of their children were also injured when the car overturned along a narrow highway that runs through the southern West Bank. The assailants fled.

Israeli news media identified the father as Michael Mark, the director of a yeshiva in Otniel, a Jewish settlement south of Hebron. He was reported to have 10 children; the two who were injured were teenagers.

The shooting came a day after a Palestinian teenager stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl while she slept in her bedroom in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba.

The two episodes suggested that the surge in stabbings, shootings and car attacks that began in October has intensified after waning for months. The violence has left more than 30 Israelis dead, including some who were dual citizens of the United States. More than 210 Palestinians have also been killed, most while carrying out attacks or when thought to be about to do so.

Friends and relatives of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl who was stabbed by a Palestinian attacker in her home, mourned during her funeral on Thursday in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank.

Friends and relatives of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl who was stabbed by a Palestinian attacker in her home, mourned during her funeral on Thursday in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank.

Much of the violence has been concentrated in the Hebron area, where there is more friction among Palestinians, Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers. Colonel Lerner estimated that at least 80 attacks had occurred in the area.

The restrictions on Hebron and its surrounding towns and villages were intended to prevent all movement except for urgent humanitarian aid, and will affect tens of thousands of Palestinians, including those with permits to work in Israel, a crucial source of income in the area.

“It will be extremely limited,” Colonel Lerner said of exceptions to the restrictions. Palestinians can also “expect to see much more forces on the ground,” he said, adding, “There will be checkpoints and other activities.”

The Israeli government’s security cabinet was expected to convene on Saturday evening to discuss further steps.

The restrictions around Hebron were a sharp step up from the military’s monthslong policy of using targeted closings to punish an attacker’s hometown or village.

While Palestinian security officials were cooperating with Israeli forces to clamp down on violence, Colonel Lerner said that there had been no clear condemnation of the attacks by the Palestinian government, and that celebratory posts on social media were encouraging violence.

In the conference call, Colonel Lerner said the current spike in violence could be tied to the last days of Ramadan. But he declined to comment on whether the harsher steps taken Friday reflected the more hard-line vision of the far-right defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, appointed on May 25.

Also Friday, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the government’s plan to deduct tax revenues from the estimated $130 million transferred monthly to the Palestinian government. The statement did not say how much would be deducted, only that the amount was meant to equal that “being transferred by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families.”

In a statement, the government accused the Palestinian government of “various laundering methods” to transfer money to militants and their families.

Palestinian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The recent attacks have been fueled in part by incendiary posts on social media and militant groups urging more violence. But they also reflect growing despair by young Palestinians in particular over a life constrained by Israel’s decades-long military occupation and their own rudderless leadership.

Earlier on Friday, a Palestinian woman was shot dead in Hebron after the police said she had brandished a knife near a contentious holy site shared by Muslims and Jews, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Wafa, the Palestinian official news service, reported that the woman, Sarah Tarayreh, 27, was pregnant, but gave no further details. She was from Bani Naim, the same hometown as Mohammad Tarayreh, the 19-year-old who on Thursday killed Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, in her home in the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank.

Also Friday, a Palestinian man, Mohammad Habash, 63, died when thousands of worshipers tried to rush through a military checkpoint from the West Bank to Jerusalem. The melee occurred when Palestinians celebrating Ramadan tried to reach the holy site known to Muslims as the Al Aqsa Compound, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Activists posted video on Facebook of police officers on horseback driving some of the worshipers back and other officers announcing that all Palestinian men under the age of 45 should go home.




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