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Israel bars Palestinians from entering West Bank settlement bloc

world Updated: Nov 23, 2015 19:00 IST
Israel-Palestine conflict

Israeli policemen stand next to the covered body of a Palestinian attacker who stabbed an Israeli woman at a bus station before being shot dead by security forces, near the Gush Etzion block of settlements south of Jerusalem.(AFP Photo)

The Israeli army on Monday prohibited Palestinians from entering a large settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank after the weekend stabbing death of a 21-year-old woman and a shooting last week.

The move comes as Israel seeks to halt nearly two months of violence, including knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians.

The restriction applies to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem, as well as the nearby settlement towns of Efrat and Beitar Ilit -- where an estimated 2,000 Palestinians work.

The Etzion bloc, Efrat and Beitar Ilit are home to some 92,000 Israelis.

Palestinians were being allowed to travel on the area’s main roads but not enter settlement neighbourhoods, which are usually gated and guarded, a military spokesperson told AFP.

The spokesperson could not say how long the measure would be in place.

A Palestinian from a nearby village on Sunday stabbed to death 21-year-old Israeli woman Hadar Buchris at the Etzion junction near the settlement bloc.

On Thursday, a Palestinian opened fire at the same spot, killing an American, an Israeli and a Palestinian.

There have also been other stabbings and attempted attacks against civilians and security personnel in Gush Etzion, which lies between Jerusalem and the flashpoint city of Hebron, a focal point of the recent violence.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also ordered additional security measures in Hebron to halt what he has called “terrorism by individuals, occasionally with kitchen knives, who are incited mainly by social media”.

The army has erected extra roadblocks in areas connected to Palestinian villages and overnight arrested five Palestinians in the Hebron area, the military spokesperson said.

The wave of violence, since October 1, has left 89 dead on the Palestinian side -- including one Arab Israeli, as well as 16 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers.