High alert in Israel for first Friday prayers of Ramadan

Jerusalem, June 10 (IANS) Israeli security forces were on high alert for the first Friday prayers offered in Ramadan, two days after four Israelis were killed in a Tel Aviv shooting attack.

Thousands of Israeli police officers and border police guards were deployed throughout the city, specially focusing on the East Jerusalem areas inhabited mostly by the Palestinians, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The Jerusalem police would act sternly against any source which attempts to violate the order,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The focal point of the Friday prayers is at the sacred Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers attended the prayer services at the mount.

The area has been a source of strife, as Jews are only allowed to visit but not offer prayers, and tensions exacerbated last September, when Jewish and Muslim holidays collided, and clashes ensued.

These clashes were followed by a wave of violence throughout the country, which started in October, and had since claimed the lives of 32 Israelis and 205 Palestinians.

The army would also impose a closure starting on Friday and until midnight between Sunday and Monday on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip territories, amid the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, celebrated on Saturday and Sunday.

“In accordance with government directives and the ongoing situation assessment, as of Friday crossings from the Gaza Strip and West Bank territories will be open to Palestinians only in medical and humanitarian cases,” an offical said.

The army also said it had deployed two additional battalions to the Judea and Samaria on Thursday as a result of the attack.



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