Palestinian police officers have closed off the West Bank town of Bethlehem and the main thoroughfare that runs through it to Israeli traffic, protesting Israeli security measures at a Jewish shrine on the outskirts of the town.
Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij accompanied Sunday that Israeli security arrangements outside Rachel’s Tomb – including Israel’s blocking off traffic lanes – was having a detrimental effect on local and tourist traffic to Bethlehem.
Freij also claimed that the Israeli security measures violated the terms of agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinians police officials set up roadblocks Sunday in the areas of Bethlehem under their authority, barring Israeli drivers from passing through the town.
Israel has built a bypass road linking settlements near Bethlehem with Jerusalem, but many Israel drivers opt to take the main highway, saying that the bypass road significantly lengthens travel time.