The IDF partially closed Ramallah in the West Bank on Monday, sealing off roads out of the city intermittently after a nearby shooting the day before that wounded three soldiers. This is the first time such a measure has been taken with the main Palestinian city since the start of the current round of violence.
Citing "situation assessments," the IDF said only residents of Ramallah and senior Palestinian Authority officials who work in the city could enter and only residents of other cities and humanitarian cases were allowed to leave until further notice.
The closure was lifted shortly after 10:30pm Monday.
Ramallah is the seat of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority and is a commercial center, drawing workers from around the West Bank. "Internal closures" were common during the Palestinian uprising that ended a decade ago, but have been rarely used in recent years.
The move came a day after a Palestinian policeman who served as a bodyguard for the Palestinian attorney general opened fire at a checkpoint near the city, wounding three soldiers. The one who was wounded moderately-to-seriously underwent a successful surgical procedure and is recovering in the emergency care unit.
Despite the measure, a row of about 100 cars queued at a checkpoint that was closed in the morning could be seen streaming through, and a main road out of the city, which had earlier been closed, was later opened. Palestinian sources told Ynet that the closure had not yet been fully enforced.
The IDF Spokesperson also said that entry would be allowed in order to provide passage for Palestinians through the city and along Route 60 and the back roads.
Thorough checks were being conducted at the 'Atara checkpoint near Birzeit, north of Ramallah, while the Focus checkpoint near Beit El, where Sunday's attack occurred, has been closed completely; and the Jaba' checkpoint was closed for Ramallah residents wishing to exit the city.
Palestinians said the partial closure was collective punishment for the act of one individual.
"They shouldn't punish the entire governorate of Ramallah for a policeman who carried out an attack," said Palestinian police spokesman Adnan Damiri.
Israel has struggled to contain a wave of near-daily Palestinian attacks, which began in Jerusalem in mid-September and later spread to the West Bank and cities across Israel. It has beefed up security, sending troops to patrol its cities and erecting checkpoints in Arab areas of East Jerusalem.
In the latest violence Monday, the military said a Palestinian attempting to cross the West Bank separation barrier drew a knife when soldiers approached him. The troops opened fire, killing the Palestinian.