Source AP ©

Israeli military seals off West Bank and Gaza Strip for Jewish holiday

The Israeli military announced an open-ended closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip Wednesday, ahead of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Succot, which begins at sunset.

Blanket closures, including travel bans within the Palestinian areas, are usually imposed during Jewish holidays, and restrictions are eased - though not lifted - once the holidays are over. The most recent one, Yom Kippur, ended Saturday.

"In light of the significant terror threat during the Jewish holiday...a general closure will be implemented...during the holiday period," a military statement said. "It will be lifted in accordance with security assessments."

It said that passage would be allowed for urgent humanitarian cases.

The statement said journalists could not use the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza but they were free to enter and leave the West Bank. It gave no explanation for the Gaza ban.

The military said aircraft struck Wednesday at Palestinian rocket launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials said two people were slightly injured in the strikes, near the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.

The raids came after Palestinians fired three rockets, one of which was confirmed as falling in Israel but causing no injury or damage, the military said. .

The army said Palestinians also fired six mortar shells into Israel from the southern part of the strip, but no casualties were reported.

Israel last week declared the Gaza strip - which has been ruled by the violent Islamic Hamas since a June takeover - an "enemy entity " as a prelude to possible punitive cuts of utilities to the territory, but has so far taken no operative steps.

The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that a committee of security advisers set up following the declaration has recommended imposing a seven-hour power outage after each rocket attack that causes extensive damage or casualties.

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