West Bank city of Tulkarem on lockdown as Israeli forces search for gunman

Published December 10th, 2015 - 08:45 GMT

Israeli forces maintained a complete closure Thursday of the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem in the search for a gunman who wounded a former member of a Jewish extremist group and his wife, locals said.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces on Wednesday night raided Tulkarem and surrounding areas directly after the shooting, closing entrances leading into the city with cement blocks.

Israeli forces retreated from Tulkarem early Thursday morning and remained deployed near city entrances, locals said.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “in order to locate the gunman from last night’s attack, security measures were implemented in Tulkarem.”

The measures began with security checks at all entrances and exits of the area, which were later closed completely, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that all entrances and exits leading into Tulkarem were still closed Thursday and would remain closed to all movement “except for humanitarian cases.”

Sealed entrances included Tulkarem’s eastern entrance near Noor Shams refugee camp, the entrances of Kafa and Danabah neighborhoods, as well as the main road between the villages of Shofa and Ezbet Shofa, locals told Ma’an.

Locals were reportedly attempting to use dirt roads to enter and exit the city of Tulkarem, home to over 50,000 Palestinians.

The closures are likely to affect the movement of the nearly 200,000 Palestinians living in the Tulkarem governorate.

The main entrance of the al-Ram neighborhood north of Jerusalem was also sealed late Wednesday by cement blocks, preventing residents from moving in or out.

Locals believe the closure was put in place due to recent clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces in the area.

The most recent closures came after Shaul Nir, a former member of the Jewish Underground -- a group which carried out a string of violent attacks in the 1980s -- was seriously to moderately wounded in a drive-by shooting Wednesday night. His wife, Rachel Nir, was lightly wounded.

Israel’s security cabinet last month gave the military the liberty to seal Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank while “searching for suspected terrorists,” without first receiving approval from the government.
 
The military was already carrying out the decision without such approval prior to the cabinet's decision, according to Israeli media.
 
Israeli military forces have implemented closures over the past two months throughout the occupied West Bank, one of several measures taken in attempt “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals on Israeli military and civilians.
 
Such closures across the Hebron district last month were condemned by Israeli rights group B’Tselem as “collective punishment."
 
Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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