Israeli Cops Warn of ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy for Either Jewish or Arab Disturbances Over Yom Kippur Fast
Both the Israel Police and the army say they’re taking no chances of allowing Jewish or Arab public disturbances over the weekend, as Israel begins the solemn Yom Kippur Day of Atonement fast on Friday night, authorities have said in recent days.
As in years past, the IDF is closing down crossing points between the West Bank, Gaza and Israel for the duration of the holiday, which this year, falls on the same day as the festive Muslim Eid al-Adha feast.
“Over the course of the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur … in accordance with situation assessments, a general closure in the Judea and Samaria region and the Gaza Strip will be implemented,” as of midnight Thursday until midnight Saturday.
“During the closure the IDF will enable movement for humanitarian and medical requirements,” the IDF said, in a statement.
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders in mixed-populace cities like Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acco, Ramle, Haifa, Nazareth and elsewhere are trying to convey a message of reconciliation, while police are deployed in potential hot spots.
Police are deploying some 2,000 reinforcements to secure central traffic axes, sensitive places and friction points, with an emphasis on mixed cities, like Nazareth, Acco, Lod, Jaffa, Carmiel and Jerusalem, officials said.
Additionally, the report said police would deploy SWAT teams in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – the scene of scores of recent Arab attacks on Jewish residents – at the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount.
In Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, hundreds of police will be out in force in several locations, including the Hassan Bek and Mahmoudiya mosques. The police will serve as a human shield around the two shrines to prevent friction between Arabs celebrants and Jewish worshipers heading to or from services.
As in other cities, like Lod and Acco, Tel Aviv police met with representatives of the Muslim and Jewish communities in recent days, in an effort to curb tensions over the holidays.
“We’ve already held three meetings with religious leaders, educators, community and security officials,” said Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri.
Six years ago, his city of 50,000 residents was hit by major rioting by both Arabs and Jews, an experience that left a scar on relations between the Jews and Arabs since.
“If there are other such events, we – through the major forces that will be deployed here, and discretionary measures, whether by police or local authorities – will deal with each case individually.”
“Our goal is to first create a deterrence,” one police official said.
“If an event does develop, the goal is to contain it and not let it get out of hand,” the official said, noting that nearly all vacation or breaks were curtailed in order to get the maximum number of patrols out on the street.
EMS rescue services are also gearing up, as in years past, along with fire departments and municipalities, in order to coordinate preparations.