Jerusalem police deployed thousands of troops to the city in preparation the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan which is expected to bring thousands of worshippers to the al -Aqsa mosque, while security agencies warn of violence in the capital and in the West Bank.
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The IDF spread Iron Dome missile defense system across the country as the public was urged to adhere to police instructions and report any unusual incident or suspicious.
Although the past few days have been relatively calm, clashes on Temple Mount last week set off rocket attacks in the north and in the south as well as deadly terror strikes that killed four people.
The police said they intend to allow freedom of worship for the many who will visit the holy sites, while maintaining security.
Over 2,000 police officers and Border Police troops will spread around Jerusalem early on Friday while others will be deployed to the outskirts of the capital, and the Old City.
A senior police official said the force dealt successfully with the challenges of the holiday for the three main religions and enabled everyone to safely arrive to worship. "We also foiled a stabbing attack when we apprehended a suspect thanks to the vigilance of police officers," he said.
"We will on Friday, allow the tens of thousands of Muslims to pray at the Temple mount but will not allow any incitement, violence or disruption to the order. We will use all means, covert or visible including technical tools to first and foremost prevent any violence," he said.
Certain roads leading to and around the Old City will be closed to traffic as of 6 am and until the afternoon hours. Traffic will also be averted in some areas of West Jerusalem.
The Hamas terror group has called on Muslims to arrive at al Aqsa to join a mass prayer at dawn on Friday, "and renew the oath to protect the holy site from the occupiers," the Islamist group said. "We are calling on our people in the occupied territories to come and achieve victory for Jerusalem and to foil the Zionist enemy's plans to desecrate our holy sites," Hamas said.
The riots at al Aqsa caused a drop in the number of worshipers. One woman who regularly prays there said that last year, "there were 40,000 people in the last days of the holy month but now there were maybe 20. It is very sad," she said.
The government's decision to disallow Jews from visiting the Temple Mount compound during the end of Ramadan seems to preserve calm and is considered by Muslim religious authorities and the Jordanians as a move to prevent further violence.
Dozens of indictments were handed down on Thursday, for rioting at al-Aqsa and others were still under investigation, according to the police.
IDF forces remain on high alert in the West Bank in light of continued intelligence indicating plans to carry out terror attacks. At the same time the military is still in pursuit of the terrorist who murdered three members of the Dee family from the settlement of Efrat last week and battled with two terror squads at least one of which was set to launch an attack near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and two other terrorists who fired gunshots at a military post near the settlement of Elon Moreh.
The military said the identity of the assailants in the Dee family murder was known to them and their capture was near.
First published: 23:57, 04.13.23