Security forces on high alert as Jewish Israelis mark Yom Kippur

The Jewish Day of Atonement comes amid increased tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

September 22, 2015 13:57
2 minute read.
Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur. (photo credit: REUTERS,JPOST STAFF)


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Security forces were on high alert Tuesday as Jews across the country were set to observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Day of Atonement comes amid increased tensions in Jerusalem, which has recently seen rioting at the Temple Mount and an increase in Molotov cocktail and stone-throwing attacks.

There were also two attempted separate terror attacks in Hebron on Monday night and Tuesday morning ahead of Yom Kippur.

On Monday night, a Palestinian man was killed when a grenade intended to be used to harm Israeli soldiers near Hebron apparently detonated prematurely while still in his hands. An initial investigation into the incident found that the man was 23-year-old Diyaa Talahma, an Islamic Jihad operative whose brother is being held in administrative detention in Israel.

On Tuesday morning, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman attempted to stab soldiers in Hebron as they stood by the Policeman’s Checkpoint that separates the Israeli and Palestinian sections of the city. Soldiers opened fire, striking and injuring the attacker in her lower body. No soldiers were injured in the incident.

The IDF has made security preparations to ensure the safety of the tens of thousands of Jews expected at the Western Wall on Yom Kippur.

“Thousands of police will be in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Additionally, the IDF announced on Monday that it will stop movement into Israel from Judea and Samaria, as well as from Gaza crossings, from Tuesday at noon until Wednesday, one minute before midnight.

The closure is an annual security precaution, and comes in line with an order by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

“The lifting of the closure will occur in two days... in accordance with a situation evaluation,” the IDF added.

Yom Kippur also coincides this year with the Islamic holiday of Id al-Adha on Wednesday.

While Yom Kippur is a day of solemnity, fasting, and introspection, Id al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is a day of celebration marking Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael, often involving the slaughter of sheep for eating at celebratory meals.

In Islamic tradition, Abraham was about to offer his son Ishmael as a sacrifice, whereas the Bible records that Abraham’s youngest son, Isaac, was offered.

Due to the markedly different characteristics of the two holidays, misunderstandings in the past between Jewish and Muslim residents have led to riots, notably in 2008 in Acre, when a Muslim drove through a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur leading to three days of violence.

In Jerusalem, Yom Kippur was set to begin at 6:01 p.m. on Tuesday and end at 7:11 p.m. on Wednesday; in Tel Aviv, from 6:16 p.m. on Tuesday to 7:13 p.m. on Wednesday; in Haifa, from 6:07 p.m. on Tuesday until 7:13 p.m. on Wednesday; in Beersheba, from 6:18 p.m. on Tuesday to 7:13 p.m. on Wednesday; and in Eilat, from 6:06 p.m. on Tuesday to 7:11 p.m. on Wednesday.

Tovah Lazaroff and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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