Police heighten security in capital for 130,000 visitors expected for Passover, Easter

Thousands of officers to patrol densely populated religious events in Old City

April 1, 2015 17:37
2 minute read.

A Catholic nun holds an olive branch during a Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem . (photo credit: REUTERS)

With 130,000 Christian and Jewish visitors expected to flood the capital during Passover and Easter, the Jerusalem Municipality, Tourism Ministry, and police announced on Wednesday that final preparations have been made to enhance public transportation and safety during the holiday.

According to the municipality, close coordination with the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry and police will ensure the influx of pilgrims can travel freely, with limited delays and disruptions.

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Accordingly, the municipality said all the city’s bus and light rail lines will be increased, with free shuttle services to the Old City also provided.

To help facilitate smooth traffic flow in the city, City Hall said police will also close sections of Route 1 and Hebron Road near the Old City to private vehicles, it added.

“The public is asked to come and travel within Jerusalem using public transportation and free park and ride shuttles, which will be located throughout the city,” the municipality said in a statement.

Information regarding bus, light rail and shuttle services can be found on the municipal website at jerusalem.muni.il, or by calling *8787.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that thousands of extra security personnel will patrol the capital, with a special emphasis on the Old City, during Passover and Easter.

“In general, heightened security will take place as a standard security measure for both Passover and Easter,” he said.

“Border Police and undercover units and extra patrols will be deployed throughout the city, beginning the first night of Passover and until it concludes.”

While Rosenfeld said police have not received any intelligence of a planned attack, he noted that nothing is being left to chance as tens of thousands of Christian and Jewish visitors flood the narrow streets of the Old City.

“Police will be inside the Old City and working in coordination with representatives from the Church to ensure visitors are able to walk freely and safely to observe the holidays,” he said.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau noted that the government has invested heavily to ensure visitors of all religions can enjoy the city’s numerous holy sites.

“As part of its preparations for the Easter holiday, the Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Jerusalem Municipality, will broadcast live the Holy Fire ceremony from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on giant screens set up in shaded areas in the church courtyard and at the Jaffa Gate for the benefit of visiting pilgrims.”

Both the Ceremony of the Holy Fire and the Priestly Blessing (Birchat Hacohanim) service at the Western Wall are expected to be the largest events of the holidays.

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