An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks past a banner depicting Pope Francis, in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel Police announced Thursday that over 8,000 policemen will work in close coordination with Italian Police to secure Ben-Gurion Airport and Jerusalem during Pope Francis’s historic twoday visit to the country on Sunday and Monday.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, regular patrol units, special patrol units, undercover units and helicopter units will canvass all areas the pope is scheduled to visit, including Mount Scopus, Yad Vashem, Herzl’s grave site and the capital’s Old City.
“Because this is a tremendously important and significant visit on three levels – including security, religiously and politically – the Israel Police has completed comprehensive preparations, leaving nothing to chance,” Rosenfeld said on Thursday.
In addition to the thousands of officers patrolling the Old City, where the pope is set to ascend the Temple Mount and visit the Western Wall, Rosenfeld said a nearby intelligence and observation center will be fully manned at all times.
“Using the center’s sophisticated camera system, police will have a clear perspective about how things are developing on the ground level as the pope moves about,” he said.
Rosenfeld added that the police has taken preemptive security measures by barring four right-wing activists believed to be planning disruptions before and during the visit.
“Over the last 24-hours, we received intelligence about these four suspects, who are intending to create provocations,” he said. “Therefore we have handed out restrictive orders preventing them from entering the Old City for four days.”
While Rosenfeld did not state what organization the activists are affiliated with, he said that two of those barred from entering the Old City are yeshiva students.
He emphasized that the security plans implemented should prevent any dangerous developments from unfolding.
“If there are any incidents whatsoever during the visit, there will be enough police units in and around the area to respond immediately if necessary,” he said.