Israel celebrates its New Year and seals of West Bank and Gaza

Israel has sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Rosh Hashanah festivities to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

The move prevents any Palestinian from leaving the territories, even to go to work in Israel. Security measures have been tightened throughout the country. New roadblocks have been set up and thousands of troops and police officers have been drafted in to patrol city centres and public places considered possible targets for suicide bombers.

During the night Israeli troops arrested 40 Palestinian militants in the West Bank. It follows clashes on Sunday between the security forces and Hamas militants in Gaza City, which left a Palestinian police commander and two bystanders dead. The violence flared up when Palestinian police tried to stop a car carrying members of Hamas.

In the last few days the Palestinian police have increased their presence on the streets of Gaza, and are trying to enforce a ban on carrying weapons in public.

In the last week a number of Palestinian militants have been killed and around 400 suspected militants have been arrested in the West Bank in an Israeli offensive launched after militants fired rockets into Israel. As a result of the offensive a meeting between the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, due to take place on Sunday, was cancelled, AKI reports.

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