Security on high alert ahead of Passover holiday

Large contingents of police forces deployed throughout the country; IDF imposes closure on West Bank for the holiday.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
April 6, 2012 09:13
2 minute read.
Border police [file]

Border police 370. (photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)

The Israel Police was on high alert throughout the country on Friday morning ahead of the Passover holiday. Large contingents of police, Border Police and volunteers were set to patrol crowded areas with the aid of helicopters.

The IDF also increased its force deployment in preparation for the holiday, and imposed a closure on the West Bank which will be removed on Hol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday).

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Additionally, a large police force arrived in Eilat on Thursday for reinforcement, following the firing of a Katyusha rocket at the city from the Sinai Peninsula late Wednesday night.

Israel threatened an aggressive response to the attack, although the IDF is expected to refrain from a large-scale response to prevent an escalation of violence over Passover.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz warned that Israel had the ability to reach every person involved in the recent spate of bombing plots against Israeli targets overseas, Gantz said at a ceremony honoring outstanding officers.

Turning to the rocket fire on Eilat, Gantz said that Israel viewed the attack gravely and that it was the work of terrorist organizations operating in the peninsula.

Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi revealed on Thursday that the IDF had thwarted 10 different terrorist plots to attack the country from Sinai in the past two months.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for new Military Intelligence officers, Kochavi said that the firing of the Katyusha rocket was a demonstration of the changes sweeping through the Middle East.

“It could be that the change will bring new opportunities, but in the short term, the risks are increasing,” he said.

The rocket strike on Eilat did not come as surprise for the IDF, which has been closely tracking Palestinian terrorist activity in Sinai since an attack along the Egyptian border in August left eight Israelis dead. IDF assessments are that the perpetrators of Wednesday night’s attack were either a Palestinian rocket cell from Gaza – affiliated with either Hamas or Islamic Jihad – or Beduin freelancers working for the Gaza-based organizations.

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak-Halevy said his city would function as usual despite the attack.

“We have no intention of changing our daily routine,” he told Army Radio. “I call on all Israeli citizens to come enjoy the warm weather in our city this Passover.”

Yaakov Katz, Herb Keinon and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report


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