Following the beginning of the annual 30-day Ramadan festival on Saturday, Jerusalem police announced that heightened security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all the capital’s residents as tens of thousands of Muslims converge on the Temple Mount’s al-Aksa Mosque.
Al-Aksa Mosque – Arabic for “the farthest mosque” – plays a pivotal role in observance of the holiday, as a chapter in the Koran entitled “The Night Journey” states that the prophet Muhammad delivered the Koran from Mecca to the holy site in Jerusalem shortly before rising to heaven.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, comprehensive security assessments have been made in coordination with the IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and other security organizations to reflect the massive ongoing manhunt for the three abducted yeshiva students, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.
“On the one hand, we are continuing the search for the boys in Judea and Samaria, and on the other hand are making sure that thousands of officers are in and around Jerusalem to prevent any incidents whatsoever,” Rosenfeld said.
Border Police, special patrol and undercover units will canvass the city for the duration of the holiday, he said.
“We’re respecting the festival, and will do everything possible to allow the thousands of visitors to observe it, while also ensuring the safety of all Jerusalem’s citizens,” Rosenfeld added.
During the 30-day period, Muslims refrain from food and beverages from dawn until dusk.
While Ramadan is most associated with daily fasting, which is broken during festive nightly communal meals called “iftars,” fasting is only one of the five elements of the holiday, which also include abstaining from sexual activity, evil acts, thoughts and words.