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Israel To Seal Its Borders

September 29, 1998

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel announced today it will seal its borders with the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Day of Atonement, the most important day on the Jewish calendar.

The holiday of Yom Kippur begins at sundown tonight and ends at sundown Wednesday. Observant Jews pray, fast and ask God for forgiveness for their sins.

Israel routinely imposes a blanket closure on the West Bank and Gaza during Jewish holidays to prevent possible terror attacks by Palestinian militants.

Markets this morning were crowded with shoppers buying ingredients for a last afternoon meal before the start of the fast.

Security was beefed up in the markets and around synagogues and Jewish holy sites where thousands of Jews were expected to gather beginning at sundown.

The closure takes effect at 2 p.m. today and will be lifted at 1 a.m. Thursday, the army said. It bars the more than 2.5 million Palestinians from entering Israel, including tens of thousands of workers.

Israeli security forces have been on alert since Sept. 11 when two top fugitives fugitives of the Islamic radical group Hamas were killed by Israeli troops. Hamas has threatened revenge.

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