כניסה להר הבית בתשעה באב
Jewish visitors entering the Temple Mount on Thursday morning
Photo: Mateh Irgunei Hamikdash
Jewish visitors entering the Temple Mount on Thursday morning

Jerusalem police brace for day of protests and prayers

Planned protest outside PM's residence coincides with day of mourning for destruction of Jewish temples; head of Jerusalem District Operations Branch says local force determined to prevent repeat of violence against anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel Aviv

Gilad Cohen |
Published: 07.30.20 , 08:45
Thursday was already expected to be a particularly tense day for the police as they dealt with the safety of worshipers at the Western Wall on the occasion of Tisha B'Av, the of Jewish mourning for the two biblical Temples, and demonstrations outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence.
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  • After demonstrations in Tel Aviv escalated into violent clashes, the police were preparing Thursday for higher numbers at an evening demonstration against Netanyahu at the main site of protest - in front of his Balfour Street home.
    כניסה להר הבית בתשעה באבכניסה להר הבית בתשעה באב
    Jewish visitors entering the Temple Mount on Thursday morning
    (Photo: Mateh Irgunei Hamikdash)
    The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the temples stood, was also opened to Jewish visitors to mark Tisha B'Av.
    The visitors were to be allowed to the site in groups of 20, entering two minutes apart.
    The mount, which today houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, has often been the site of tensions between Jews and Muslims.
    מתפללים בכותל בתשעה באבמתפללים בכותל בתשעה באב
    Socially distanced Tisha B'Av worship at the Western Wall
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Regarding the political demonstration, Jerusalem District Police said that it was as yet unclear whether demonstrators planned to march towards Paris Square, but said that such a request, if made, would be examined by the district commander.
    Police sources said the district commander would not rule out the possibility of the march.
    The head of Jerusalem District Operations Branch, Deputy Superintendent Shlomi Bachar, told Ynet on Wednesday night that this was a challenging time for the police.
    He said that despite harsh criticism of the police in recent weeks, the Jerusalem District was learning from incidents at previous demonstrations.
    תומכי נתניהו היכו מפגינים של הדגלים השחוריםתומכי נתניהו היכו מפגינים של הדגלים השחורים
    A protester sits on the ground after she was apparently pepper-sprayed by Netanyahu supporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night
    On Tuesday night, anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel Aviv were attacked, apparently by a gang of supporters of the prime minister.
    At least five people were wounded in the attacks and three people have been arrested.
    "In light of what happened in Tel Aviv, we will also be preparing to secure the demonstrators in a very wide circle to prevent friction between the protests themselves and to prevent acts of violence between civilians," Bachar said.
    הפגנה הפגנות מול בית רה"מ ב בלפור ירושלים דגלים שחורים הפגנה הפגנות מול בית רה"מ ב בלפור ירושלים דגלים שחורים
    Protesters outside the PM's official residence in Jerusalem last week
    (Photo: EPA)
    The Jerusalem District was planning to deploy hundreds of police officers for Thursday across all areas of the city.
    "There will be overt and covert activity," Bachar said. "The goal is to prevent the violence that we have already seen."
    The increased deployment of the police in intended to allow all protesters at the scene. Furthermore, the compound itself has been expanded to allow more protesters to enter.

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