IDF combs fields near Nir Am
IDF combs fields near Nir Am Reuters

The IDF Spokesman announced on Thursday that, following a decision by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a general closure will be imposed on the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

The closure began at 11:59 p.m. (Israel time) on Thursday and will end after the Passover holiday, on Saturday evening at 11:59 p.m., depending on the security situation at the time.

According to the IDF announcement, during the closure movement into Israeli territory will be allowed only for humanitarian reasons, medical reasons and other exceptions, all subject to the approval of the Civil Administration.

The announcement on the closure comes after Israel placed the IDF on its highest state of alert following a situation assessment by senior commanders. The assessment was conducted after a pair of Grad rockets fired from Egypt exploded in Eilat early on Thursday.

The high alert comes as thousands of visitors begin arriving in the resort town of Eilat for the holiday.

The move came just one week after IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Israel’s military would remain at full strength – but not high alert – over Passover. Gantz’s decision ended the Israeli tradition of the army “going on vacation” for Passover.

Gantz warned on Thursday that Israel is able to reach every terrorist involved in bombing plots against Israeli targets overseas.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring outstanding officers, Gantz said, “We know the source of these attacks. The terrorists must know that Israel's long arm will ultimately reach anyone who wishes to harm Israeli civilians and the Jewish people, whether they are in Gaza, Lebanon or anywhere else.”

Gantz told the gathering that Wednesday night's midnight rocket attack on the Red Sea resort city of Eilat was carried out by terrorist cells operating in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel views the attack “gravely,” he said.

“Anyone who tests us from near or far will find themselves facing a strong and smart military prepared to defend Israel and defeat our enemies.”