Is­rael beefs up se­cu­rity for Yom Kip­pur hol­i­day

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­rael boosted se­cu­rity and barred Pales­tini­ans from en­ter­ing from the oc­cu­pied West Bank or the Gaza Strip ahead of the solemn Jewish hol­i­day of Yom Kip­pur that be­gan yes­ter­day even­ing. Thou­sands of Jews visit the Western Wall in east Jerusalem’s Old City around Yom Kip­pur, or Day of Atone­ment, which ends today even­ing. The same oc­curred for last week’s Rosh Hashanah hol­i­day and will take place again for next week’s Sukkot fes­ti­val. Last year’s hol­i­day pe­riod led to clashes and marked the start of an up­surge in Pales­tinian gun, knife and car­ram­ming at­tacks. Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces are on es­pe­cially high alert af­ter a Pales­tinian gun­man killed two peo­ple in Jerusalem on Sun­day.

More than 3,000 po­lice are be­ing de­ployed in the city for Yom Kip­pur, the holi­est day on the Jewish cal­en­dar. Po­lice spokesman Micky Rosen­feld said road­blocks had been mounted. On Mon­day night, tens of thou­sands of Jews crowded into the square around the Western Wall, Rosen­feld said.Prayers led by Is­rael’s two chief rab­bis be­gan shortly af­ter mid­night and con­tin­ued un­til sun­rise for some wor­ship­pers, in one of the largest Jewish cer­e­monies of the year. Moshe Cohen, a 19year-old from Jerusalem, said the cer­e­mony was among the most im­por­tant days in the Jewish cal­en­dar. “You pray and you get free (of ) all the bad things you do,” he said. “You feel con­nected to God.”

Cohen said he felt the num­ber of faith­ful was roughly sim­i­lar to last year. Rosen­feld did not pro­vide a spe­cific fig­ure. Many Pales­tinian shops in the Old City were closed. Near the Lions’ Gate en­try to the Old City, used by many Pales­tini­ans, Is­raeli forces erected a tem­po­rary bar­rier stop­ping cars from go­ing fur­ther. Clo­sures of the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries are of­ten put in place for ma­jor Jewish hol­i­days. This week’s lock­down ap­plies only to Pales­tini­ans and not the roughly 400,000 Is­raeli set­tlers in the West Bank.

Gaza is al­ways un­der an Is­raeli block­ade, though some cross­ings are usu­ally al­lowed for work or med­i­cal pur­poses. Hu­man­i­tar­ian and ur­gent med­i­cal cases will be al­lowed through dur­ing the hol­i­day, the army said. Be­yond vis­its to the Western Wall, the hol­i­days also see more Jews visit the ad­ja­cent Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound. The site is holy to both Mus­lims and Jews, who re­fer to it as the Tem­ple Mount. It is cen­tral to the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, with Pales­tini­ans fear­ing Is­rael may one day seek to as­sert fur­ther con­trol over it.

On Sun­day, a 39-year-old Pales­tinian who saw him­self as an Al-Aqsa pro­tec­tor went on a shoot­ing ram­page in Jerusalem, killing two Is­raelis. The at­tacker, Mis­bah Abu Sbeih, who was re­port­edly sched­uled to be­gin a prison term on the same day, was killed by po­lice af­ter he fled into an east Jerusalem neigh­bor­hood. — AFP

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