In an unusual move, the US State Department has called on American citizens to avoid Jerusalem's Old City during the entire week of Succot, warning citizens of increased violence, crime and heavy traffic.
"It is a good idea to avoid the Old City for the entire week," read the warning, which was issued on Friday. It stressed that "Monday, October 5, is expected to draw the largest crowds due to the annual pilgrimage by Jewish worshipers who will assemble at the Western Wall for special prayers."
The State Department explained that "Political and religious tensions are expected to be high in the areas immediately adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound throughout this period.
"A large police presence in the area may provoke spontaneous violence in the form of civil unrest and police actions," the statement, which was published on the State Department's Web site, continued.
In the warning, US citizens were also informed that "vehicle traffic in and around the Old City will be restricted by the Israeli National Police."
Finally, Americans were warned that "the crowded environment could result in an uptick in criminal activity to include pickpockets, physical assaults and other crimes."
Crowds and walking or driving around the Old City should be avoided, the statement concluded.