Security Preferred to Sacrifice

With the start of the Passover festival just hours away, the IDF have imposed a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza that started at midnight Thursday and will continue through to midnight Saturday.

Photo of IDF soldiers at checkpoint

An IDF statement indicated that Palestinians' movement between the West Bank, Gaza, and Israeli territory will be limited to "humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases" during the two-day closure.

Officials are concerned that the various gatherings over the holiday period 'present targets that are more available and "valuable" for terrorists.' Hence the greatly increased security arrangements.

One of the largest gatherings will be at the priestly blessing ceremony held in front of the Western Wall on Sunday. Last year that ceremony attracted 50,000 Jewish worshippers.

Today Israeli police have thwarted three attempts by Jews to sacrifice goats on the Temple Mount during Passover, arresting seven people in the process. Their explanation was that these attempts "threatened to undermine the peace."

The Temple Mount is a focal point for the current tensions in Israel, with police expecting acts of provocation by both Jews and Arabs. Consequently a massive security operation is now under way across the country, including 3,500 police on patrol in Jerusalem itself.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that: "As Passover approaches, all sorts of extremists will spread lies about our policy concerning the Temple Mount."

These ongoing tensions have been exacerbated by the bombing of a bus on Monday, injuring 20 people and resulting in the death of the bomber.


Article updated at 17:30 pm on Friday 22nd April.