NABLUS, West Bank — Palestinian motorists drove freely out of this bustling West Bank city for the first time in six years Saturday after Israel eased long-standing travel restrictions in an apparent goodwill gesture ahead of Eid al-Adha, or the "Feast of the Sacrifice."
The move was the latest sign of improving cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. After years of fighting, Israel has begun to allow Palestinian security forces in the West Bank to maintain law and order in several major Palestinian population centers in recent months.
In contrast, Israel continues to battle militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Late Saturday, Israel launched a pair of airstrikes against rocket launchers in northern Gaza. One attack wounded two militants as they tried to fire a rocket, one critically, Palestinian officials said. The army confirmed the airstrikes.
In Nablus, Palestinians crowded into cars to take advantage of their newfound freedom.
"I hope this is permanent," said Wissam Hassouna, a 37-year-old grocer who planned to go for a drive with his wife and children.
"I really want to drive quickly in my car. I've never taken my car outside of Nablus before. I want to know what it feels like to speed," he said, as he waited in a line to pass through the Hawara checkpoint.