Arafat: Israel seals West Bank and Gaza

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Israel sealed the West Bank and Gaza Strip and sent troop reinforcements to the areas today, in response to Yasser Arafat's death, the military said.

Israel sealed the West Bank and Gaza Strip and sent troop reinforcements to the areas today, in response to Yasser Arafat's death, the military said.

Israel also increased security at Jewish settlements, fearing widespread Palestinian riots in the coming days.

"The Israeli Defence Forces are deploying to allow a dignified funeral ceremony for chairman Arafat," an army statement said.

The military said it would restrict access to the funeral, set for Saturday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and only allow Palestinians with the necessary permits to attend.

The military will allow symbolic funeral processions to be held in towns and refugee camps across the West Bank and Gaza, officials said.

In the past four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Israel has imposed strict travel restrictions on the Palestinians and severely limited their access to Israel.

Today's blanket closure means no Palestinians will be able to enter Israel.

The military also sent troop reinforcements to the West Bank and Gaza.

In the UK, the Foreign Office today revised its travel advice for Israel and the Occupied Territories in response to Mr Arafat's death.

British travellers were already advised against travelling to certain parts of Israel and large parts of the territories, which are made up of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The advice now includes: "Following the death of Yasser Arafat, the security situation remains unclear throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"You should be aware that staff from the British Embassy and Consulate–General are not entering either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip until further notice.

"Because of current travel and other restrictions, there are limits to the level of consular assistance we can provide in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

The Foreign Office said that the amendment reflected "the potential for deterioration in the security situation in the Occupied Territories following Mr Arafat's death".

Comments