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Ahead of Peres Funeral, Israel Prepares ‘Largest Security Operation Since Rabin Assassination’

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

The late Shimon Peres shakes hands with Jordan's King Hussein at the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in November 1995. Photo: Moshe Milner via Wikimedia Commons.

The late Shimon Peres shakes hands with the late King Hussein of Jordan at the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in November 1995. Photo: Moshe Milner via Wikimedia Commons.

Massive security preparations are underway in Israel ahead of the Friday funeral of former President Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday at the age of 93.

Following the death of Peres, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency began to assess the steps that would need to be taken to protect the dozens of world leaders — potentially including US President Barack Obama — who are expected to fly to Israel for the funeral on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the Hebrew news site nrg reported. The report described the monumental effort as the “largest security operation” since the 1995 funeral of assassinated Israeli prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

One of the security steps, the nrg report said, would be the establishment of “sterile zones” at the cemetery.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry will assist foreign VIPs with organizing the logistics of their trips, the nrg report noted.

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Ben-Gurion International Airport will bring in dozens of extra workers in the coming days to deal with the influx of visitors for the funeral, the Hebrew news site Ynet reported. Due to the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday, the coming days were already supposed to be jam-packed at Israel’s main international gateway. A record 95,000 passengers are expected to pass through Ben-Gurion on Thursday.

According to the Ynet report, 30 wide-body passenger planes and 60 private aircraft will be arriving in Israel carrying funeral guests.

“We will use all means at our disposal” to manage the situation, the Israel Airports Authority said in a statement.

Peres, who served as Israel’s president from 2007-2014, was also twice prime minister — for two years in the mid-1980s and for less than one year in the mid-1990s. As a young man, Peres was a protégé of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

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