This article is an overview of the Israel Defense Forces’ decision to close West Bank border crossings on Election Day. It will provide readers with information on IDF’s response to terror attacks in Hebron and Jericho that occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and explain that the decision was made due to fear of further terrorist attacks.
What caused the IDF to close the West Bank?
On Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that they had closed the entire West Bank in order to prevent any potential disturbances on election day. This comes as a surprise as the West Bank has been a hotbed of unrest and violence for years now.
The IDF cited security concerns as their main motivation for closing down the West Bank, but many people are skeptical of this reasoning. Many believe that the IDF is simply using this excuse to suppress Palestinian voters and prevent them from casting their ballots.
Regardless of why the IDF made this decision, it is still a troubling move that will have consequences for both sides. For Palestinians, it will mean that they are limited in where they can go and what they can do. For Israelis, it will add to the feeling of insecurity and isolation that exists in the region.
How are the terrorist attacks affecting Israel?
Israel’s counterterrorism forces have closed the entire West Bank, including its largest city, Ramallah, on election day in a move designed to increase security. The closure is the most extensive to date in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Palestinians are barred from entering Israel and Israeli citizens are not allowed into the Palestinian territories. The move comes as Israel prepares for general elections on Tuesday in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to win a fourth term. In addition, Israel has been beefing up security at large events, including a soccer match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beer Sheva on Sunday night that ended in a 1-1 tie.
The closures come as Palestinians prepare for what they see as an illegitimate election – one that was moved from its original date of November 17 after Netanyahu’s Likud Party pulled out of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over settlement construction in disputed areas of the West Bank. Palestinians see the vote as a way to legitimize Netanyahu’s rule and undermine Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ authority. Abbas has called for a peaceful protest march toward Jerusalem on Saturday to coincide with the vote.
The Palestinian people’s response to Israeli elections
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip woke up Wednesday to find that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had closed down all travel between the areas, effectively barring them from voting in Israel’s elections. The IDF defended its decision by saying that it was necessary to “prevent violence and ensure security during the electoral process.” However, many Palestinians saw it as an attempt to suppress their votes, which they viewed as a direct response to Tuesday’s election results. Hundreds of people marched in protest throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip Wednesday morning, chanting “the people want to vote” and “down with occupation.” In Bethlehem, dozens of protesters were detained by Israeli forces after attempting to cross into Israel. Meanwhile, Hamas called for a boycott of the elections and vowed not to recognize any outcome.
Israel has consistently denied allegations of voter suppression, insisting that its measures are necessary for security reasons. Nevertheless, analysts say that the closures are likely to have a negative impact on voter turnout among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up around 20 percent of the population. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), denounced the Israeli closure as “a blatant violation of international law and an escalation against our people.” He urged Palestinians living in exile abroad to participate in the elections via phone or Internet voting, urging them to “show their rejection [of] Israeli policies through their votes.”
IDF’s decision about closing the West Bank for security reasons
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Tuesday that they will be closing the West Bank entirely to all traffic and civilian activity on election day, November 17th. The decision is based on the IDF’s assessment that the continuing violence in the region makes it too dangerous for civilians to stay in the West Bank.
“We have been making this decision for some time now,” said Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, spokesman for the IDF. “The situation in the West Bank has deteriorated and there are no guarantees that it will improve any time soon.”
Lerner added that closing the West Bank would not prevent Palestinians from voting, as they could cast their ballots by crossing into Israel or by traveling through other Palestinian territories. However, he warned that those who choose to go through Israel would be subject to security checks and possible delays at checkpoints.
This announcement comes as a surprise to many observers, given that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had repeatedly pledged during his campaign not to close down the West Bank. In a speech earlier this month, Netanyahu even hinted that he might consider expanding Jewish settlements in the area if he was re-elected.
Critics of these closures say they are an arbitrary way of punishing Palestinians without actually achieving any strategic goals. They also argue that they create obstacles to humanitarian assistance and trade, which could have a devastating impact on Gaza’s already struggling economy.