The Israel Police on Thursday arrested a man suspected of setting several sukkahs on fire overnight in the southern city of Ashdod.
Local residents had reported the incident to authorities, and the suspect, 30, was subsequently identified and arrested while attempting to steal alcohol from a store.
Police hailed the “swift response” to the incident, and said forces were deployed to uphold “personal security and responsiveness…during the High Holidays.”
On Tuesday, Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai warned that the country’s security services are confronting “dozens” of Palestinian terrorist plots every day ahead of the upcoming Sukkot holiday.
“We are still very much on alert for the Tishrei holidays, with dozens of warnings and intentions to carry out terrorist attacks [being detected],” Shabtai said during a briefing with senior police staff.
The week-long Sukkot festival starts at sundown on Friday and will see tens and thousands of Jewish worshippers flock to the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the traditional Priestly Blessing.
“I am asking everyone today to refresh procedures on the ground, for high vigilance, quick response to events and visibility and presence in crowded places. The general quiet is deceptive and can change in an instant,” Shabtai instructed officers.
On Sept. 13, in a press briefing ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman first warned of “an increase in warnings and actionable threats of all types, also during the days of Selichot [penitential prayers], on weekdays and holidays.”
Every synagogue in Jerusalem will be guarded by armed security personnel this High Holiday season, Turgeman told reporters, adding that since the beginning of 2023, police have thwarted 31 attempted attacks in the holy city.
Special efforts are being made to maintain the fragile calm on the Temple Mount in the Old City, Judaism’s holiest site, which sees an uptick in Jewish pilgrims over the holiday season, said Turgeman.
Thousands of Israel Police officers, Border Police officers and security volunteers have been deployed to guard Israel’s holy places, recreational sites, parks, beaches and roads.