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Israel arrests suspected would-be suicide bomber ahead of Jewish holiday
The Israeli army arrested a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank, saying he was preparing a suicide attack to coincide with the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

The arrest, near Jenin, came as the army prepared to lock down the West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday, which begins at sunset on Sunday.

The unidentified man was nabbed Saturday morning in the village of Bir al-Bash, the army said, without providing any details.

Jenin, a center of Palestinian militant activity close to the Green Line that separates the West Bank from Israel, was later invaded by an Israeli armored column, Palestinian security sources said.

A Palestinian man was wounded by Israeli fire, said the sources, who could not explain the reason for the incursion, but said a curfew was in place.

The army also arrested in Ramallah a wanted militant from the Islamic radical movement Hamas, he said.

Separately, Israeli soldiers were carrying out a house-to-house search in the village of Shuwad, south of Jenin, in search of a militant of the Islamic group Hamas, the Palestinian sources said without providing details.

And in the village of Anza, which is also located near Jenin, the army said it found and destroyed a workshop for manufacturing explosives. Several kilograms (pounds) of bomb-making materials were also destroyed.

Earlier Saturday, the army took over the municipality and five other buildings in the town of Yatta, some eight kilometres (five miles) south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron in search of militants, residents said.

They closed off all entry roads and used bulldozers to block streets with huge piles of rubbish while they conducted house-to-house searches.

Israeli sources confirmed the operation, saying the army was searching for "troublemakers" in the run-up to Yom Kippur.

"Troops have gone into Yatta to search for militants and troublemakers before the holiday in order to ensure there are no clashes," an army official told AFP.

The official said Yatta was a stronghold of militant groups which might target the large number of Jewish pilgrims expected to travel to the Tomb of Patriarchs, a contested religious site in nearby Hebron, for the holiday.

"We are searching for people who might want to try and sabotage the prayers at the Tomb," he said, adding further searches were likely to be conducted in other villages in the area.

The army detained 17 Palestinians in Yatta, a town of some 40,000 people, earlier this week.

Israeli troops were also deployed in force in central Hebron Saturday, using tear-gas to clear people from the streets, witnesses said.

Also known as the Machpelah Cave and the Mosque of Abraham, the Tomb of the Patriarchs is considered holy by Jews and Muslims alike.

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, most Jews observe a complete fast for 24 hours.

In the southern Gaza Strip, meanwhile, the army carried out an incursion in Rafah, on the border with Egypt, bulldozing some farm land and arresting the owner of the property and his son, Palestinian security sources said.

The army said Israeli positions were hit by a mortar near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in the central Gaza Strip, but no one was wounded in the attack. However, settler sources said that several mortars were fired.

An army statement said the blockade of the Palestinian territories for Yom Kippur would begin at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) on Sunday and continue until 2:00 am on Tuesday (2300 GMT Monday).

The border post linking Rafah and Egypt will also be closed, as will the Allenby Bridge linking the West Bank with Jordan.

At the same time, the Erez, Karni and Sufa crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel will be closed.

Transit will only be allowed for humanitarian reasons, the army said, adding that Israelis are also prohibited from entering areas under Palestinian control
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