Sunday, September 27, 2009

Heightened State of Alert as Yom Kippur Approaches

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

The State of Israel is on a heightened state of alert across the country as the start of the holiest day of the Jewish year approaches, and remain that way throughout Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. A curfew was initiated at midnight Saturday in Judea and Samaria, and will be lifted at midnight after the end of Yom Kippur. During that period, Palestinian Authority Arabs will only be allowed to cross the pre-1967 border into the areas of Israel controlled solely by Jerusalem for unusual medical or humanitarian reasons. Each individual case will be first reviewed and approved by the Civil Administration.

Prior to the start of the Day of Atonement, security is being provided at cemeteries around Jerusalem.

On Yom Kippur itself, vehicular traffic from eastern Jerusalem will be blocked from passing into the other areas of the city. The measure was taken as a means of minimizing the security risks as well as any friction between Arabs and Jews. Security forces will also be deployed around synagogues in the city.

Last year, an Arab driver nearly ran down a group of Jews in the street in Akko on the evening of Yom Kippur. Although not officially illegal, it is considered unacceptable to drive in Israel on this day, other than emergency vehicles, so the car raised suspicions -- especially since earlier in the year, there had been a spate of terror attacks by Arabs driving bulldozers, and one in a car.

The Jews, fearing a terror attack, stoned him, prompting days of Arab rioting in response. Arabs from other neighborhoods flooded into the majority-Jewish area, breaking windows, setting fires and vandalizing Jewish property in other ways. Dozens of stores and vehicles were smashed.

Police increased forces in mixed cities around the country following the attacks, starting with Akko.

Nonetheless, police do not presently have any plans to beef up deployment in mixed cities for this year's Yom Kippur, according Mickey Rosenfeld, spokesman for Israel Police. Rosenfeld told Israel National News on Sunday that although the police presence had been intensified around the capital in response to the Arab riots on the Temple Mount earlier in the day, there were no plans to do likewise elsewhere around the country.

Magen David Adom on Highest Alert Level

Magen David Adom has also increased its presence in the Old City of Jerusalem as result of Sunday morning's Arab riots.

MDA has also placed its volunteers and workers on the organization's highest alert level throughout the rest of the country in preparation for Yom Kippur.

Workers and volunteers will be available throughout the holiday to take care of emergencies, injuries, and births, with emergency vehicles available to transport those in need to hospitals.

MDA officials asked Sunday morning in a statement to the media that Israelis make way for emergency vehicles that need to speed to hospitals.

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