Israel locks down West Bank for Jewish holiday
Israel has imposed a complete closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins on Monday night.
Israel's army said that Palestinians will not be allowed to enter or exit the West Bank via military checkpoints for the duration of the holiday, with exceptions made for humanitarian cases.
The closure does not apply to Jewish settlers.
Israel routinely imposes severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians during Jewish holidays.
Last month, a similar closure was imposed in the West Bank for the holiday of Purim.
The measures severely impact thousands of Palestinian labourers who work in Israel, mainly in construction. Israel says the measures are intended for security purposes, but criticis dispute the claim.
"It is clear that all Israeli policy, including closures, show disregard for Palestinian human rights and their well-being," Israeli human rights group B'Tselem told The New Arab.
"It is doubtful that these policies are for Israel's security. With the occupation existing for 50 years, and having no end in sight, as a whole these policies should be seen as a means to subjugate Palestinians to Israel's rule indefinitely."
This year, the last few days of Passover overlap with the Christian holiday of Easter, and it is not clear yet whether Palestinian-Christians will be permitted to enter Jerusalem to visit their holy sites.
In East Jerusalem, meanwhile, at least 35 Palestinian Muslims were issued notices banning them from the Old City for the Passover holiday.
Israeli police install added checkpoints in the Old City and impose stringent security measures on Palestinians during Jewish religious holidays.
Last year, Passover in Jerusalem was marked by near daily clashes as Israeli right-wing religious nationalists attempted to perform religious rituals at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.