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Israel Orders Closure on West Bank, Gaza During Jewish Holiday


Israel's defense minister has ordered a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip to guard against possible terrorist attacks during the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins on Saturday.

Amir Peretz called for the closure to last from late Thursday local time until midnight Monday, when Purim ends. Palestinians are banned from entering Israel during that period, except for special humanitarian cases.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military says its troops have withdrawn from the West Bank city of Nablus, ending a five-day operation to arrest militants.

During the raids, Israeli troops arrested 11 Palestinians and discovered three bomb factories. Israeli fire killed one Palestinian civilian.

As they withdrew from the city, Israeli troops lifted a curfew in the densely populated Old City of Nablus that confined tens of thousands of people to their homes.

Israel calls Nablus a terrorist hub. Palestinian leaders say the Israeli raids are meant to undermine efforts to form a unity government that includes the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Israel, the United States and the European Union describe Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Israel's raid on Nablus marked its largest West Bank operation since a raid on the town of Ramallah in January.

Some information for this report provided by AP.