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IDF Releases Restrictions in West Bank

By: Hanan Greenberg, Ynet


GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi announced Sunday that for the first time in 10 years Israeli tour guides would be allowed into Bethlehem and Jericho, both of which are considered within restricted Palestinian territories.
Mizrahi and Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Civil Administration, decided on the new arrangement during a meeting with leaders of the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.
They also decided to ease the movement restrictions on Palestinians traveling through the West Bank by removing 60 barriers spread throughout the territory.
The arrangement will allow tourists to move freely through all checkpoints in Bethlehem. In addition, Palestinians will be allowed to pass freely through the Daharia checkpoint southwest of Hebron.
Mizrahi also promised freer movement to senior Palestinian businessmen at all checkpoints, as well as the opening of Keidar road to Palestinian vehicles.
Israeli-Arabs will also be able to pass through all checkpoints located on the outskirts of the West Bank, as well as through the Tul Karem checkpoint on weekends.
IDF officials stressed that the easements were made following security assessments and that they would preserve the quality of life and safety of all residents.
They said the new arrangement had been born of positive cooperation between the army and Palestinian security forces, which have recently proven their worth in fighting terror and Hamas agents.
"It may be a delicate relationship, but there is faith on both sides as well as results," one official said. "The situation on the ground allows for these easements, and we must remember that the command is still in the hands of the IDF, which can change them if necessary."