Israel has barred Palestinians from entering the country from the occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip throughout the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday, the Israeli army said on Tuesday. Humanitarian and urgent medical cases will be allowed despite the closure.
Last year’s holiday period led to a new wave of violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinians. At least 230 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since October 2015.
More than 3,000 policemen have been deployed in Jerusalem while a temporary barrier was erected near the Lions’ Gate entry to the Old City to stop cars from going further.
Israel often imposes closures for Jewish holidays citing security reasons. The same occurred for last week's Rosh Hashanah holiday.
Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday evening and ends on Wednesday. Jewish worshippers believe that it is a day to reflect on the past year and ask God’s forgiveness for sins. They spend the day in fasting and prayer.
The day is marked with thousands of Jews visiting the Western Wall, and is often accompanied with a controversial visit to the adjacent Al Aqsa mosque compound.
While the Al Aqsa mosque compound is deemed to be one of the holiest places in Islam, Jews believe it is the location of an ancient temple which they hold sacred.