Middle East

Palestinian workers banned from West Bank settlements

Palestinian workers wait to cross into Israeli settlement area at the Mitar checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, 19 January 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Israeli military said the settlement entry ban would be reviewed on a daily basis

The Israeli military is temporarily banning Palestinian workers from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, following two stabbings in two days.

A spokesperson said the move, which will be reviewed on a daily basis, was necessary to maintain security.

Palestinians will still be permitted to enter industrial zones.

On Sunday, a mother-of-six was killed in her home at the settlement of Otniel, while a pregnant woman was wounded in Tekoa on Monday.

A Palestinian youth suspected of killing 38-year-old Dafna Meir was arrested on Tuesday, following a major manhunt in Hebron Hills area.

'Hatred has an address'

About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israel's prime minister told the family of Dafna Meir that her killer's home would be demolished

The Israeli defence body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, Cogat, said 26,000 Palestinians employed at settlements would be affected by the restrictions announced on Tuesday.

"In light of the daily situation assessments and following recent terror attacks, security measures have been taken in the communities of the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] region," a military spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Palestinians would still be able to enter the approximately 20 settlement industrial zones, which house about 1,000 factories.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the family of Dafna Meir that Israel would demolish her killer's home as a deterrent.

Mr Netanyahu also once again accused Palestinian leaders of incitement.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Human Rights Watch called on businesses to pull out of settlements in the West Bank

"The hatred that caused this murder has an address," he said.

"It is the incitement campaign led by the Palestinian Authority and other elements such as the Islamic Movement and Hamas, and it is about time the international community stopped their hypocrisy and called things by their names."

Responding to the killing of Mrs Meir, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday he was "concerned over every drop of blood from any person", Israeli media reported.

He added that Palestinians would "stand firm on our land, and we will stay the course despite the desperation and in spite of the fact that Israel's leadership is trying to close every door to peace".

In the past four months, 27 Israelis have been killed in stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

At least 155 Palestinians have also been killed during that time. Israel says most were assailants, shot by their victims or security forces as they carried out attacks. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Also on Tuesday, a new report by Human Rights Watch said businesses operating in settlements contributed to "an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians" and called on them to pull out of the region.

Israel's foreign ministry called the report "one-sided", and said it "jeopardises the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians and discourages rare examples of coexistence, co-ordination and co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians".