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Election Day Security Closure on PA Areas

In light of current security assessments, a general closure is to be imposed on PA-controlled areas for the duration of Election Day.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 2/9/2009, 11:04 PM

In light of current security assessments, a general closure is slated to be imposed on the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria for the duration of Election Day on Tuesday. Ahead of the closure, PA terrorists continued their firebombing efforts.

In the case of a general closure, PA residents and goods are prevented from crossing into Israeli jurisdictions.
Senior PA officials and members of non-governmental organizations will be excepted.
During the Election Day closure, the IDF's Civil Administration officials will authorize the passage of those in need of medical aid, of medical personnel, of the lawyers and families of PA residents in Israeli jails, as well as of religious workers, teachers and other members of designated professions. In addition, senior PA officials and members of non-governmental organizations will be excepted from the closure restrictions.

The general closure, decided upon by the Ministry of Defense in consultation with intelligence services, will commence at midnight on Monday. Barring unexpected developments, the closure will be lifted at midnight on Tuesday, in accordance with security assessments at that time.

Terrorists Targeting Elections
The IDF closure highlights a known phenomenon in observed terrorist behavior, according to analysts from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), "murderous attacks are frequently carried out against civilian targets before and during elections. Apparently, the terrorists feel that such actions are effective means to influence political realities."

A recent instance of such election-day violence took place in northwest Pakistan in late December, when a suicide bomber killed 26 people and injured 13 others outside a regional by-election polling station. Another infamous example of terrorist attacks directly related to elections is the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004, three days before Spanish national elections. The multiple, simultaneous attacks by a jihadist cell killed 191 commuters and injured nearly 2,000. The effect of the attack and its aftermath was credited with wiping out the then-incumbent Prime Minister Aznar's lead in the polls and installing a government that favored withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq.

In Israel, in November of 2002, a jihadist terrorist opened fire at the Likud Party headquarters in Beit Shean as party members gathered to vote in primaries. Six people were killed in what was partly perceived as an effort to frighten voters from polling places.

"Turkish authorities have announced that the [Kurdish] PKK terrorist organization is planning attacks to precede or coincide with upcoming municipal elections in Turkey," ITRR noted. Turkish elections are slated for March 29, but Turkish police have already found a van loaded with weapons, ammunition, rockets and explosives that they said was to be part of a larger election-period assault.

Bombs Thrown, Bombs Found
On Monday, IDF forces in Judea and Samaria captured two terrorists after they carried out a bombing attack, one terrorist before he did so, and three enemy firebombs ready for use.

Two PA residents apprehended by the army Monday evening confessed to throwing firebombs that damaged the fence around the Jewish community of P'nei Kedem, southeast of Bethlehem. The two were caught during a search of the area. A knife was found in the possession of one of the suspects. They were turned over to General Security Services officers for further questioning.

Earlier in the day, an IDF search in the Beit Iba neighborhood of northwestern Shechem turned up three pipe bombs. The terrorist in whose possession the explosives were found was arrested. Gunpowder found in his possession was detonated in a controlled manner by the Border Police bomb squad.

Three other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found near the Arab village Khirbet Tarmah on Monday morning. Soldiers of the Kfir brigade discovered the IEDs while on patrol southwest of Hevron. A specialized police unit disposed of the devices in a controlled explosion.

No one was injured in any of the foregoing incidents.

Israel National News announces all night election coverage including a live TV broadcast and an up-to-the-minute election results page.