Two days after an unsolved bus explosion in Jerusalem, and amid protracted tensions over what many are deeming a third intifada, police said on Wednesday that nothing is being left to chance when tens of thousands of Jews and Christians gather in the Old City for Passover.
Over 3,500 police officers from a range of units – including Counterterrorism, Undercover, and Special Patrol – will be deployed throughout the capital, with an emphasis on the Old City, where large-scale ceremonies will be held.
The Ceremony of the Holy Fire in the Christian Quarter and the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim) service at the Western Wall are expected to be the largest events of the holidays.
“Israel Police have carried out security assessments for the Passover festival, and heightened security will continue throughout the country, with an emphasis on Jerusalem, where thousands of people are expected to come to visit the Old City and Western Wall,” said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“Security measures will also continue throughout next week, with emphasis on Birkat Kohanim, which will take place early next week, and during the Ceremony of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where units will be mobilized throughout the festival.”
Rosenfeld noted that following Monday’s bus explosion in Talpiot, which wounded 21 passengers and destroyed two Egged buses and a car, police remain hyper-vigilant against any threats. A gag order has prevented police from issuing any statements regarding the ongoing joint investigation with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
“After this week’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem, police are taking no chances whatsoever, and all necessary security arrangements are being made and implemented on the ground,” he said.
The Jerusalem Municipality said it is working in close coordination with the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry and police to ensure that the visitors from across the globe can travel freely, with limited delays and disruptions.