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West Bank is sealed off; two homes demolished in Bethlehem

(Edited from Ma’an reports)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the complete closure of the West Bank on Friday, sealing all entrances to Jerusalem and Israel.

According to the Defense Ministry, the closure will last at least until next Sunday, giving the Israeli security services time to re-evaluate the situation after the attack on a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem on Thursday evening.

Immediately after the attack on the school, to the north of Bethlehem, Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers entered Bethlehem, surrounded the home of Islamic Jihad activist Muhammad Shahada and began to demolish the house.

The invading forces fired a missile at the two-storey house before bulldozers began demolishing it. They also demolished the house of Shahada’s father and seized his brother.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces closed the area surrounding Shahada’s house and searched in the neighbor’s houses looking for Shahada. Bethlehem resident Hasan Abu Sadud was shot in the foot.

Ma’an’s reporter said that the Israeli soldiers forced all the residents of the neighborhood out into the street and ordered them to undress. Not knowing wether Shahada was present, the soldiers called Shahada through loudspeakers, demanding to emerge from the house.

Earlier on Thursday, 20-year-old Osama ‘Eed from the village of Jurat Ash-Sham’a, near Bethlehem, was seriously injured after confrontations broke out between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian young people.

The forces withdrew on Friday morning.

The Israeli police announced a state of alert in all Israeli cities, especially Jerusalem where thousands of soldiers and police officers deployed preventing Muslims from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Meanwhile, extremist Jews threatened to take revenge, shouting “death to Arabs”.

Barak said the attack represented the failure of the Palestinian Authority to fight “terrorism.”