West Bank sealed off for Passover

Israel has stepped up security measures ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday, sealing off the Palestinian territories, as an opinion poll indicates that most settlers will not oppose the Gaza pullout.

    The West Bank has been sealed off by the Israeli army

    The West Bank was closed off until Sunday in an effort to avert attacks during Israel's most popular holiday, which begins on Saturday, with additional police deployed at markets and synagogues. 

    An attack during Passover in 2002 at a hotel in Netanya in northern Israel killed 29 people.

    Passover commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt and is celebrated by 95% of Israeli Jews, with the traditional meal of Seder marking the beginning of Passover week on Saturday. 

    Opinion poll

    The occupation army said some Palestinians could travel to Israel for humanitarian reasons, in coordination with Palestinian authorities, while restrictions remained tight in the occupied Gaza Strip. 

    The increased security came as an opinion poll showed that the majority of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would not resist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's controversial plan to evacuate them. 

    The survey said that 64% of those questioned did not intend to resist the evacuation, while 33% were ready to oppose the move, although only 4% said they would resort to force. 

    Right-wing settler leaders and rabbis have called for resistance in one form or another, with some calling on security forces to disobey orders to evict all 8000 Gaza settlers and four isolated West Bank outposts. 

    But almost 50% of settlers questioned said "the military command's order to evacuate counts more than that of rabbis opposed to the withdrawal", said the poll published in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. 

    Nablus raid

    On Saturday, Israeli troops raided the West Bank city of Nablus in an unsuccessful attempt to arrest two local leaders of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a spokesman for the resistance group said. 

    The Israeli army raided Nablus
    on Friday to look for fighters

    "Around 30 (army) Jeeps entered the Balata refugee camp to try and arrest Ala Salta, 26, and Ahmad Abu Salta, 27," the spokesman said. 

    "Both managed to escape, but Abu Salta was slightly injured in the leg during an exchange of fire," he added.

    Another Israeli force stormed Saida city, north of Tulkarim, which Israel handed over to the Palestinian Authority three weeks ago, Aljazeera's correspondent in Palestine said.

    The city of Jenin was also stormed by about 20 Israeli military vehicles, and a number of Palestinians were arrested.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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