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October 8, 2019 11:38 am

Israel Shuts Down as Holiest Day of Jewish Year, Yom Kippur, Gets Underway

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Children ride their bicycles on an empty road during Yom Kippur in Jerusalem, Sept. 30, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

Israeli security forces and medical services were on high alert on Tuesday as Yom Kippur — the holiest day on the Jewish calendar — got underway.

The Israeli news site Mako reported that complete closure of the West Bank had been imposed and police were deployed in large numbers in the Old City of Jerusalem, where thousands of worshiper were gathering for the holiday, particularly at the Western Wall.

The Israel Police deployed officers, Border Guard soldiers and other personnel throughout the country, especially in Jerusalem, where checkpoints were set up for vehicles attempting to cross from eastern to western sections of the city.

In a statement, the Israel Police said it would “act resolutely to prevent disorder of any kind during the day.”

The police noted that because of the lack of traffic, those who do drive often do so in an unsafe manner, and that traffic units would be deployed in force.

Israel’s emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MADA) is expecting thousands of calls over the holiday as the annual fast takes hold, often causing medical problems such as fainting and dehydration.

There is also concern due to the fact that traffic almost stops completely over the holiday and thousands take to the highways on bicycles, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

MADA stations are being reinforced with paramedics, ambulances and emergency ICUs in anticipation of the large volume of calls.

Synagogues around the country have also been equipped with emergency medical technology such as defibrillators in case worshipers fall suddenly ill.

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