update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Armed guard in every Jerusalem shul over High Holidays

"There's been an increase in warnings and actionable threats of all types," said Jerusalem Police chief Doron Turgeman.

Police patrol Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda Market during the 2022 High Holidays. Credit: Israel Police.
Police patrol Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda Market during the 2022 High Holidays. Credit: Israel Police.

Every synagogue in Jerusalem will be guarded by armed security personnel this High Holiday season, as the terrorist threat in Israel’s capital remains high, District Police Commander Doron Turgeman told reporters on Wednesday.

“There’s been an increase in warnings and actionable threats of all types, also during the days of Selichot [penitential prayers], on weekdays and holidays,” said Turgeman during the press briefing ahead of the Jewish New Year.

He noted that 110 persons are in custody as part of the police’s strategy to prevent “incitement and hostile terrorist activity.”

Since the beginning of 2023, police have thwarted 31 attempted attacks in the holy city, Jerusalem’s top cop added.

In January, seven people were killed and several others were wounded when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire inside a synagogue in the capital’s Neve Ya’akov neighborhood.

Special efforts are being made to maintain the fragile calm on the Temple Mount in the Old City, Judaism’s holiest site, which usually sees an uptick in Jewish pilgrims over the holiday season, said Turgeman.

The Islamic Movement in Israel, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is upping its efforts to incite unrest on the Temple Mount, JNS revealed this week, with deputy chairman Kamal Khatib claiming that “Jewish religious communities have been mobilizing people to raid the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Khatib’s remarks closely resembled rhetoric used by the Hamas terrorist group, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, with official Haroun Nasser al-Din warning on Sept. 11 that Israel was planning to “exploit the ‘Jewish holidays’ to carry out raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque.” 

Turgeman told journalists at the briefing, “There will be dynamic public access to allow Muslims and Jews to ascend the Temple Mount without harming each other.”

On Tuesday alone, eight persons were removed from the site for inciting unrest, he said.

Turgeman officially approved the police’s preparations for the Days of Awe, which include the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, on Wednesday, a press release added. The plans for Sukkot and Simchat Torah are still being finalized.

Thousands of Israel Police officers, Border Police officers and security volunteers will be deployed to guard Israel’s holy places, recreational sites, parks, beaches and roads, the statement said.

The police warned the faithful that “the Western Wall imposes a limit of nearly 20,000 individuals at any given time. Once the area reaches its capacity, the police will prohibit entry from the Jaffa Gate and other entrances.”

Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, following a situational assessment meeting with security officials ahead of Rosh Hashanah, warned that there “will be individuals who seek to cause harm during the holiday season.

“My message to the security system is unequivocal: Our priority is to protect the citizens of Israel. We will engage in defensive operations and, if required, respond with force. Don’t test us,” he said in a warning to Palestinian terrorist groups.

Israel’s National Security Council has also cautioned citizens to remain vigilant while traveling abroad over the holiday period. The updated travel warning cited a higher risk of Iranian terrorism in both neighboring and faraway countries including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as in countries in Africa and Latin America.

“On the eve of the High Holidays in the Jewish month of Tishrei, we watch with concern as global terror raises its evil head. We will continue to employ a wide spectrum of methodologies and subterfuge to defend the State of Israel and its citizens,” Mossad Director David Barnea said earlier this week.

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