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Israel bars Palestinians from settlement bloc after attack

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The Israeli army today prohibited Palestinians from entering a large settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank after the weekend stabbing death of a 21-year-old woman and a shooting attack last week.

The move comes as Israel seeks to halt nearly two months of violence, including knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians.

The restriction applied to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem, as well as the nearby settlement towns of Efrat and Beitar Ilit, where an estimated 2,000 Palestinians work.

The Etzion bloc, Efrat and Beitar Ilit are home to some 92,000 Israelis.

Palestinians were being allowed to travel on the area’s main roads but not enter settlement neighbourhoods, which are usually gated and guarded, a military spokeswoman told AFP.

The spokeswoman could not say how long the measure would be in place.

A Palestinian from a nearby village on Sunday stabbed to death 21-year-old Israeli woman Hadar Buchris at the Etzion junction near the settlement bloc.

On Thursday, a Palestinian opened fire at the same spot, killing an American, an Israeli and a Palestinian.

There have also been other stabbings and attempted attacks against civilians and security personnel in Gush Etzion, which lies between Jerusalem and the flashpoint city of Hebron, a focal point of the recent violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also ordered additional security measures in Hebron to halt what he has called “terrorism by individuals, occasionally with kitchen knives, who are incited mainly by social media.”

The army has erected extra roadblocks in areas connecting to Palestinian villages and overnight arrested five Palestinians in the Hebron area, the military spokeswoman said.

The wave of violence since October 1 has left 89 dead on the Palestinian side, including one Arab Israeli, as well as 16 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers.

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